Minimum Credit Requirements

Immigration regulations require J-1 students to be enrolled full time during the fall and spring semesters.

Summer Enrollment Requirements

Summer is considered a vacation period for continuing J-1 students. However, J-1 students are required to enroll full time during the summer if:

  • Summer is first semester at ISU (applies to both initial and reentry students)
  • Summer is first semester in new academic level
  • Summer is final semester in program

Exceptions to Full-Time Enrollment Requirements

A Reduced Course Load (RCL) is requested when a student wishes an exception for the full-time enrollment requirements. Review the Reduced Course Load FAQ on the ISSO website for more information on the RCL and eligibility requirements.

Full-Time Enrollment

  Undergraduate Graduate without Assistantship Graduate with Assistantship
Fall/Spring 12 credits 9 credits Determined by department
(If Summer is first or last semester at ISU)
6 credits 4.5 credits Determined by department
(If continuing student)
Enrollment is not required Enrollment is not required

Enrollment is not required by regulations; Check with Graduate College for their policies, if on an assistantship

Online Course Restrictions

You may not have more than one online class count toward full-time enrollment, and no more than 3 credits of that course may count toward full-time enrollment.

  • Undergraduate Scenarios (fall or spring semester):
    • 9 credits on campus + one 3-credit online course = full-time enrollment.
    • 11 credits on campus + one 1-credit online course = full-time enrollment. 
  • Graduate Scenarios (fall or spring semester):
    • 6 credits on campus + one 3-credit online course = full-time enrollment.
    • 8 credits on campus + one 1-credit online course = full-time enrollment. 

Other Course Restrictions

The following courses are not included when determining full-time enrollment:

  • Audited courses
  • Courses dropped after the semester has begun
    • Receive a mark of an "X" or "W"
  • More than one class (not to exceed 3 credits) taken online or through distance education for determining full-time enrollment

Research Abroad Requirements

Eligibility for Research Abroad in J-1 status

  • Must have completed all coursework for academic program
  • Must be enrolled in ISU Health Insurance while doing research abroad
  • Must be approved every semester to do research abroad
  • Must receive a strong letter of support from Faculty Adviser

Requirements to Maintain J-1 Status During Research Abroad

  • Register as a full-time student (or have an RCL approved) at ISU every semester.
  • Obtain a travel signature on your DS-2019 before departing the U.S.
  • Continue to check your ISU email while you are outside of the U.S.

Returning to the U.S.

  • Contact ISSO at least 1 month prior to your return to let us know you are coming back
  • Check your passport, J-1 visa, DS-2019, and travel signature for validity
  • Present your immigration documents to ISSO for review upon your return to ISU

Immigration Consequences

Failure to enroll full time may result in the following: 

  • Violation of J-1 nonimmigrant status
  • Must immediately stop working on campus
  • Any authorized off-campus work will be automatically terminated
  • Lose eligibility for all other benefits of J-1 nonimmigrant status
  • Lose eligibility to change status, for example from J-1 to F-2, J-1 to H-1B, etc.
Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.