Full Course of Study Requirements and Exceptions

J-1 full course of study requirements

You are admitted to the United States for "duration of status (D/S)," defined as the period during which you are pursuing a full course of study in a bachelor's or master's degree, doctoral or post-doctoral program, and any periods of authorized practical training, plus 30 days within which to depart from the U.S. If you fail to comply with the immigration regulations that apply to J-1 status, you may be liable to expedited removal from the U.S., and your eligibility for employment authorization will be seriously affected.
An J-1 visa and J-1 student status may be granted to an alien "who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study" at an academic or language institution authorized to admit international students. When applying for an J-1 visa, the individual must prove to a U.S. consular official that he or she wishes to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of study and that the applicant has a permanent residence in a foreign country which he/she does not intend to abandon.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that you be enrolled full-time (12 credits, if undergraduate; 9 credits, if graduate; 11 credits for all Law programs) each academic semester, except during the semester you are graduating, when you need enroll only for the credits still needed. Completing an "Incomplete" does not count towards enrollment. In order to be enrolled part-time during an academic term, you must have valid justification such as illness.

International students are not required to enroll for the summer sessions with the exception of students graduating at the end of the First Summer Session or the Second Summer Session. Summer graduates must be enrolled the summer session in which they are scheduled to graduate.

Exceptions to the full-course-of-study requirement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that international students be enrolled full-time (12 credits if undergraduate; 9 credits if graduate; 11 credits for all Law programs) with the exception of the semester during which the student is graduating, when he/she needs to enroll only for the number of credits needed to complete the program. Valid exceptions to full-time enrollment are limited to the reasons listed below. If the student withdraws from a full-time course load or registers for a part-time course load without a valid reason, he/she is considered to be out-of-status for immigration purposes.

In order to withdrawal from full-time enrollment, you must complete the Authorize to Drop Below Full Course Request for Students in F-1 and J-1 Status. After logging in to complete the form with your Cane ID, you will be asked for your academic advisor's contact information. Your advisor will receive an email asking them to review and electronically sign the form.  You will receive email notification on the status of your application.  If eligible for an authorized drop below full course load, you will be notified to pick up your new DS-2019 in 5 business days.  In addition, a confirmation e-mail will be sent to the Registrar's Office, the academic advisor, and you, at which point the class(es) can be dropped.

Valid exceptions to full-time enrollment:

  • Student has suffered an illness or medical condition which affected his/her academic work (must have a written explanation from a medical doctor).
  • Student has difficulty with the English language (applicable only to first-year students).
  • Student is unfamiliar with American teaching methods or reading requirements (applicable only to first-year students).
  • Student was placed at an improper course level.
Concurrent Enrollment
An J-1 student may be enrolled in two different SEVIS-approved schools at one time as long as the combined enrollment amounts to a full time course of study. In cases where a student is concurrently enrolled, the school from which the student will earn his or her degree or certification should issue the Form DS-2019, and conduct subsequent certifications and updates to the Form DS-2019. The DSO from this school is also responsible for all of the reporting requirements to USCIS.

Eligibility Requirements for Concurrent Enrollment:
You may apply to enroll concurrently at the University of Miami and another SEVIS-approved school if all of the following conditions are met:
  1. You are currently in J-1 status and will continue to maintain J-1 status; and
  2. You will continue to be enrolled at UM for the program of study specified on your Form DS-2019; and
  3. The combined credits for which you will enroll at UM and at a second school in the U.S. amount to a full course of study (i.e., 12 credits for undergraduate students, 9 credits for graduate students, 11 credits for all Law programs during fall and spring semesters); and
  4. Course work at the second school must not be vocational and must be accepted as credits transferable to UM and applicable to the degree you are pursuing at UM.
Application Procedures
You must submit the following documents to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) in order to obtain permission for concurrent enrollment:
  1. Concurrent Enrollment Application completed by you and your UM academic advisor; and
  2. Letter of Certification Application completed by you. The letter of certification is for you to give to the SEVIS-approved school in order to register.

Failure to Comply with Concurrent Enrollment Regulations
It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to J-1 students, including the concurrent enrollment discussed in this handout. Failure to comply with your responsibilities results in loss of your immigration status and ineligibility for any type of employment (even on-campus employment through a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship) or to apply for practical training or other J-1 benefits. In some situations, you may be subject to deportation.