F-1 Visa Regulations

Full Course of Study Requirement

Class Attendance

Tuition and Related Fees

Exceptions to Full Course of Study Requirement

Early Withdrawal (Leave of Absence)

You are required to register for three courses each semester to maintain full-time student status. Only one of the three courses you are registered for in the fall and in the spring semesters can be an online course. If you register for more than one online course each semester, you are still required to register for two on-campus courses to meet the full course of study requirement.

The January Intersession is part of the Winter/Spring semester at Hartford Seminary. If you register for one course during the January Intersession, you would only need to register for two courses during the Winter/Spring semester to maintain full-time student status.

If you drop a course, you must add one to maintain your status.

You may register for as few or as many courses as you wish during official school breaks (summer session).

 Exception for Islamic Chaplaincy Students Only

To maintain full-time student status, you are only required to register for one additional course when you are registered for Field Education or CPE.

You are required to attend class on a regular basis. If you stop attending class, please see the CISSS immediately in order to continue maintaining your F-1 status.

Tuition must be fully paid or payment arrangements made for each semester. You are required to keep current on all Hartford Seminary bills in order to register each semester – Failure to register will place you out of status and you will have to return to your home country.

A reduced course load (RCL) is only authorized under seven reasons defined by the regulations:

Illness or Medical Condition – Proper documentation includes a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. Current documentation must be provided prior to the beginning of each semester that the student requests an RCL based on an illness or medical condition.

Academic Difficulty Exceptions – A RCL must be six credits for an academic difficulty exception. This exception can only be used once while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level and does not affect your eligibility for other reduced course load exceptions.

A request for an academic difficulty exception must be on the basis of one of the following reasons:

  • Initial difficulties with the English language
  • Initial with Reading Requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods
  • Improper Course Level Placement

Students must request a letter from their advisor to the CISSS stating the reason for requesting a reduced course load based on an academic difficulty reason. The CISSS authorizes the RCL prior to the student reducing his or her course load. A student who drops a full course of study without prior approval from the CISSS will be considered out of status, their Form I-20 will be terminated, and they will be required to return to their home country.

An RCL is only allowed for 12 months per degree. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to review and approve the CISSS’s approval for RCL. Any false statement in regards to your request for an RCL is grounds for termination of your Form I-20. Students who have been granted RCL authorization must resume a full course of study in the next available semester, excluding summer session to maintain full-time status.

Other Exceptions to the full-course-of-study requirement:

  • To complete course of study in current term
  • Part-time border commuter student

If you are on a RCL, the CISSS will consult with the appropriate persons (physician, advisor, etc.) to determine if it is appropriate or advisable for you to continue your employment if applicable.

An authorized early withdrawal (leave of absence) must be granted by the CISSS after the student is granted approval from the Academic Policy Committee. You are allowed to remain in the United States for up to 15 days following the withdrawal date noted in SEVIS. The only activity permissible during this 15-day period is preparation for departure. If you remain outside of the U.S. for less than five months, you may re-enter the U.S. with a valid passport and valid Form I-20. If you remain outside of the U.S. longer than five months, you are required to apply for a new visa. You may also need a new initial Form I-20. Please contact the CISSS for more information if you need to apply for a new visa.

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