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 (Reduced Course Load): If a full course load is not needed to complete a degree.
  • Medical Condition RCL (Reduced Course Load): A temporary medical condition that hinders a student’s ability to maintain a full course load.
  • Academic Difficulty RCL (Reduced Course Load): 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 provide ISS with a support letter from a licensed medical doctor (MD), psychiatrist (PsyD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), licensed psychologist (LP), or clinical psychologist (LCP) (see regulation 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)). This support letter should state that a specific illness, medical condition, or treatment compelled the student to reduce their full course of study. An F-1 student may reduce their course load to 0-2.5 units once approved by ISS. Visa regulations allow a medical condition RCL for a maximum aggregate of 12 months per degree level, and the medical condition RCL must be reauthorized through ISS (requiring an updated support letter) each semeter. The letter can be emailed to International Student Services.

For medical officials, the signed letter could include something similar to the following: “As a [licensed medical doctor, psychiatrist, doctor of osteopathy, licensed psychologist, or clinical psychologist], I recommend [Student’s full name] reduce their course load due to a temporary illness or medical condition for the [Fall/Spring 20XX] 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 within 10 days of a change 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.