Graduate Students: Enrolling in Less Than 12 Units

As an international student, you must be enrolled in at least 12 units each quarter. U.S. immigration law allows for enrollment below 12 units under certain conditions. To maintain your immigration status, you must request authorization from an International Center advisor before dropping below 12 units. Your SEVIS record must be updated to reflect your enrollment status. 

As an F-1 or J-1 international graduate student, you may reduce your course load [drop below 12 units] for one of the following reasons:

  • Academic Leave of Absence [LOA]: If you are planning to take a leave of absence for any reason (other than medical reason), your SEVIS record must be terminated and you will be required to be outside of the U.S. You must schedule an appointment to meet with an advisor to discuss your immigration status and procedures for your return to the U.S. 
  • Academic Leave of Absence due to Medical/Health Reasons: International students who need to be absent for a medical/health condition must provide documentation substantiating the medical condition. You must provide a doctor's note from a California Licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or Licensed Clinical Psychologist. The letter must include a recommendation from the doctor to take a reduced course load or be absent during the petitioned quarter due to a medical condition and must state that you are under a doctor's care. Only letters on original doctor/hospital letterhead will be accepted. It is strongly recommended that you schedule an appointment with an IC student advisor for specific instructions prior to requesting a leave of absence due to medical/health reasons.
  • Part-Time Study Due to Health/Medical Reasons: If you are an international student and need to take less than 12 units due to a medical/health condition, you must submit documentation substantiating the medical condition. You must provide a doctor's note from a California Licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or Licensed Clinical Psychologist. The letter must include a recommendation from the doctor to take a reduced course load for one quarter due to a medical condition and must state that you are under a doctor's care. You must provide a doctor's note from a California Licensed Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
  • Filing Fee Status: As a graduate student, you can request filing fee status during your last quarter at UCI. You may only use filing fee if you have not previously participated in part-time status for having less than 12 units to complete your degree. By applying for filing fee, you are expected to graduate at the end of the quarter, on time. Extensions of programs after filing fee status are not permitted. It is highly recommended that students maintain health insurance through the duration of Filing Fee Status.
  • Part Time Study Due to Less Than 12 Units to Complete Degree Requirements: After the advisor approves your Part-Time Study form, your I-20/DS-2019 will be shortened to the end of the quarter of which your part time status is requested. You are expected to graduate at the end of the quarter. You will not be eligible for an extension of your I-20/DS-2019.
  • Academic Difficulty: If you are an international student having difficulties adjusting to the teaching methods, or with the English language, you can request to enroll in less than 12 units with approval from an academic advisor. You may only request this one time.  

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CPT/OPT Walk In

Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday
9 - 11 a.m.
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Every Friday 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Counseling Center, Student Services I

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