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U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Study in the States

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Reduced Course Load

Background

Stakeholders note that reduced course load regulations should recognize the additional professionals that consult with students about health-related issues, allow for long-term conditions and disabilities, and provide designated school officials greater discretion in authorizing a reduced course load for students.

Government Response

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recognizes limitations in current regulations and stakeholders’ desire to see these items reflected in guidance or regulation. SEVP plans to issue guidance on full course of study requirements and reduced course load in the future. Ultimately, federal regulation may require modification to allow the definition of a student’s requirements to match their capabilities. While the program hopes to pursue such a change, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement does not have the staffing resources to undertake this regulatory development process at this time. For the time being, SEVP will continue to evaluate reduced course load questions on a case-by-case basis. Stakeholders should direct any specific questions about reduced course load requests to the SEVP Response Center. 

The current regulation is designed to accommodate short-term, temporary conditions that limit a student’s ability to enroll in a full course of study. As such, long-term and/or permanent disabilities do not fit into these provisions.

SEVP will continue to communicate information about current reduced course load provisions through Study in the States and the SEVIS Help Hub. SEVP added the Reduced Course Load User Guide to the SEVIS Help Hub and published two Study in the States blog posts for international students and school officials. The resources discuss the conditions that necessitate a reduced course load and provide important reminders. The program will continue to expand the reduced course load resources available to stakeholders on Study in the States.