Immigration regulations require nonimmigrant students in F-1 or J-1 status to be enrolled in a full-time course load each Fall and Spring semester in order to maintain nonimmigrant visa status. Full-time enrollment is only required in the Summer if it is a student’s first or last semester of enrollment. International students in F-1 status may have the option of considering Concurrent Enrollment to meet the full-time enrollment requirements.

  • ISSS is required to report in SEVIS whether a student is enrolled full-time at CU Boulder, received an authorized reduced course load, dropped below a full course of study without prior authorization by a Designated School Official (ISSS Advisor), or failed to enroll. •
  • Failure to meet the full-time enrollment requirement or receive an authorized reduced course load can result in your SEVIS record being terminated.

Defining Full-Time Enrollment

  • Undergraduate students: At least 12 credit hours
  • Graduate students: At least 5 graduate credit hours, a combination of 8 credit hours of graduate and undergraduate-level courses, or 12 credit hours of undergraduate-level courses.

Classes must be taken for a grade, pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory in order to count toward the full-time requirement. Classes taken for no-credit will not count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.

Online Coursework and On-campus Presence

For both undergraduate and graduate students in F-1 and J-1 status, only 3 credits of online/remote/distance education courses can count towards the full-time enrollment requirement.

  • For example, if you are an undergraduate student, you can take a 3-credit class online, but you must have at least 9 additional on-campus credits that are for in-person classes that take place in a classroom.

On-campus presence refers to the regulatory requirement for international students in F-1 or J-1 status to enroll in course work that “requires the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.” Students must register for a certain number of credit hours that are taught using an instruction mode that requires in-person attendance.

Hybrid courses can count as in-person if the course includes an in-person learning component. Students who register for a hybrid course and who wish to count the hybrid course credits toward the in-person credit requirement should be prepared to document their attendance.

No, students must register for course work that requires their physical attendance on the Boulder campus (in-person instruction) in their final semester. While students can count up to 3 credits of online/remote/distance education courses towards the credits needed to complete their academic program requirements in their final semester, they must still meet the on-campus presence requirement. If a student needs only 3 credits to complete their program, then at least 1 credit must be in-person.

Yes. Due to current restrictions imposed by U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, web course delivery cannot be provided to the following countries:

  • Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Crimea Region of the Ukraine

Students who are a resident or may be a resident in any of these countries during their CU study, may require prior U.S. government approval. Students residing in a sanctioned country should not enroll or begin an academic program at CU. CU can seek prior U.S. government approval on a case by case basis. If you are interested in seeking prior approval, contact the Office of Export Controls at

Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment

If students have a qualifying Academic or Medical reason, they may be eligible for an authorized reduced course load. Please consult ISSS if you have questions regarding eligibility requirements. Please do not drop below a full course of study without ISSS authorization.

Please note, students with an authorized Academic RCL must still satisfy the on-campus presence requirement.

Yes! Students that need less than full-time enrollment to complete their academic program requirements in their final semester must submit the Confirmation of Final Semester e-Form (available in MyISSS portal).

Please note, students must still satisfy the on-campus presence requirement, even in their final semester

No. Students who have satisfied all requirements for the completion of their program cannot continue to be enrolled for administrative purposes. For example, after having satisfied all the requirements for their degree, international students in F-1 or J-1 status cannot continue to enroll to improve their overall GPA, prepare for graduate school, or to delay graduation for administrative reasons.

Dropping Courses

The Registrar’s Office has step-by-step instructions on the Drop a Class webpage. Please note that depending on when an international student would like to drop a class, they may need ISSS permission if the Drop Advising Hold has already been placed onto their student account.

Due to the full-time enrollment requirements for students in F-1 and J-1 status, a Drop Advising Required Hold is placed on the record of all international students in F-1 or J-1 status. The hold prevents students from dropping below a full course of study without prior permission from ISSS. The hold does not prevent students from adding classes or registering for the next term.

  • If students would like to drop a course after the hold is on their account, they can email ISSS and specify which course they would like to drop. ISSS will then check that dropping the course would not put them below a full-time course load. If dropping the course would not put the student below full-time enrollment, ISSS will lift the hold for 24 hours so that they can drop the class. ISSS will then put the hold back onto the student’s account.

Students must attend class regularly to guarantee their place in a class before the drop without penalty deadline of the semester or session. If they fail to attend, they may be administratively dropped at the discretion of the department offering the course. If an international student is administratively dropped from a course(s) and the drop causes the student to fall below full-time enrollment, the student may lose their F-1 status. Students are always encouraged to attend courses as it is one of the best academic success strategies.

Continuing Education Courses

Yes. International students may take CE classes. However, most CE classes are offered in an online format.  When considering taking CE courses, please keep in mind that only 3 credit hours of online coursework will count toward the full-time enrollment requirement for students wishing to maintain their F-1 status.

Please note the cost for Continuing Education courses, which is separate from/in addition to the on-campus tuition rates. If you have questions about the tuition and fees of Continuing Education courses, please reach out to If you are a sponsored student, please check if your scholarship allows you to take Continuing Education courses.

CE Online Flexible courses offered through Continuing Education (CE) may count toward a full course of study only if completed within the Continuing Education 6-month deadline (or within 8 months, if granted a * two-month extension by Continuing Education). International students in F-1 and J-1  status will need to seek ISSS approval prior to registering for a CE Online Flexible Course by submitting the CE Online Flexible Course Request e-form (available in MyISSS portal).                  

  1. In order to count toward full-time enrollment in a given semester, the grade for the CE Online Flexible course must post in the semester in which a student first registers for that course.
  2. If a CE Online Flexible course is dropped, the credits will not count toward that semester’s enrollment. Dropping a CE Online Flexible course could potentially result in retroactive under-enrollment which will result in the loss of F-1 or J-1 status.
  3. *Extensions are not guaranteed. Check with Continuing Education for eligibility requirements.

Please give careful consideration to the structure of a CE Online Flexible course prior to registering for one. If a student is using a CE Online Flexible course to meet the full-time enrollment requirement, it is imperative that the student complete the course in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in loss of F-1 or J-1 status.


Getting an incomplete grade of "I” counts toward the full-time minimum requirement for enrollment purposes. Students are responsible for working with their professor to ensure they complete the coursework within the established deadline to receive a letter grade for the incomplete.