International Student Services

Division of Student Life

Visa Rules and Regulations

Maintaining Status

Staying in status is extremely important for Reed international students and you should ensure you understand the visa regulations related to your immigration status and the consequences of violating that status.

Full-Time Enrollment and Exceptions

To maintain F-1 status, international students must be enrolled in a full course of study, a minimum of 3.0 units, each fall and spring semester.

Students may drop below the minimum unit requirement in one of these three rare cases:

  • Final Semester RCL: If a full course load is not needed to complete a degree.
  • Medical Condition RCL: A temporary medical condition that hinders a student’s ability to maintain a full course load.
  • Academic Difficulty RCL: Students who are struggling to adapt to the academic setting (i.e. difficulties with the English language).

In the case of a medical condition or academic difficulty, students must be approved by International Student Services prior to dropping the course(s) before the class withdrawal deadline.

If you wish to apply for a medical condition RCL, you must receive a letter from a licensed medical doctor, a doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist. This letter should state that a specific illness or medical condition compelled the student to reduce their full course of study. An F-1 student may receive a Medical Condition RCL for a maximum aggregate of 12 months per degree level. The letter can be emailed to International Student Services.

For medical officials, your signed letter could include something similar to the following: “As a [licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist], I recommend [Student’s full name] reduce their course load due to a temporary illness or medical condition for the [Fall/Spring year] semester.”

An academic difficulty RCL is only applicable in the first semester of study. Enrollment in 1.5 units is still required, and you must return to a full course of study in the following semester. If you wish to pursue a RCL due to academic difficulty, set up an appointment to talk with ISS about your concerns and possible support services. In order to move forward with the RCL, you must have documentation from your academic adviser that confirms you’ve experienced academic difficulties with one of the following:

  1. English Language
  2. Reading Requirements
  3. Unfamiliarity with U.S. Teaching Methods
  4. Improper Course Level Placement

Once documentation from your academic adviser has been received by the ISS office, we will process your one-time reduced course load.

For more information about F-1 RCLs, please visit Department of Homeland Security's website.

Reporting Requirements

International students are required to report the following to ISS in order to maintain their status:

  1. Change in address
  2. Change in legal name
  3. Change in major
  4. Change in phone number

Students must also report to Reed and enroll in classes by the program start date.

For more information, see our list of key immigration terms.