To maintain legal status, you need to be enrolled full time each fall and spring semester. To maintain full-time enrollment status:
- Undergraduates need to enroll in at least 12 credit hours.
- Graduate students need to enroll in at least 8 credit hours.
Exceptions to full-time enrollment requirements
Important: All exceptions need to be authorized by the Office of International Services (OIS) in advance. Dropping below full-time enrollment without authorization from OIS is a violation of your J-1 status. Call OIS at 812-855-9086 and set up an appointment to talk with us about your options before you drop classes.
Examples of exceptions to the full-time requirement
- A first-semester student can be advised by an academic advisor to enroll less than full-time due to language difficulties or unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods.
- A student can receive permission to drop a class if the student was placed in an incorrect level by an academic advisor.
- A student in his/her final semester of coursework can receive permission to under-enroll if the student does not need to enroll full-time to complete degree requirements. See enrollment requirements for final semester or summer term of coursework for more details.
- A student can be advised by a doctor to under enroll due to a severe medical condition (documentation by a U.S. Medical Doctor, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, or Doctor of Osteopathy is required).
- Graduate students working for 15-20 hours per week (37.5-50% FTE) as an Associate Instructor, Research Assistant, or Graduate Assistant whose contract supports this enrollment may enroll in six credit hours.
To review these exceptions in more detail and request authorization for a Reduced Course Load, please log on to iStart.
Enrolling concurrently at IU Bloomington and another university
You may be enrolled at IU Bloomington and another institution at the same time. To ensure your J-1 status is not at risk, you need to satisfy the following requirements. If you enroll in online courses at another school, you need to meet these requirements as well as the requirements listed in Enrolling in online classes as an J-1 student below.
- Talk with your academic advisor to make sure your credits will transfer.
- In iStart, submit a Concurrent Enrollment e-form and a copy of your current course registration at the other institution to OIS by the end of the first week of classes for each semester you are concurrently enrolled. The documentation of your current course registration needs to include your name, institution name, course name and number, number of credits, and indication if the credits are online or on-campus.
- Enroll in at least an equal number of credits at IU Bloomington as you will enroll in at the other school. For example, as an undergraduate, you can take 6 credits at IU Bloomington and 6 credits at another school.
- Submit your transcripts to OIS to ensure your credits get transferred.
Precautions to take when enrolling concurrently
Be careful about enrolling in summer sessions at another institution since they may not have the same start and end dates as IU. This would affect which semester the grades would be listed under in your transcript (and potentially endanger your J-1 status).
Enrolling in online classes
You can take classes online to help fulfill your full-time enrollment requirement as an J-1 student. However, only one online 3-credit class will count toward your enrollment requirement each semester. This means you need to register in at least 9 credits of in-person classes for undergraduates, or 5 credits of in-person classes for graduates.
If the online class you are taking is not at IU Bloomington, talk to your academic advisor to make sure the credit will transfer. You also need to complete the concurrent enrollment form in iStart.
Enrollment with Approved Academic Training (AT)
If you are engaging in full-time AT (21 or more hours per week), you only need to register in a AT-related course. If you are engaging in part-time AT (less than 20 hours per week), you will need to register as a full-time student. Please see the AT information on our website for more details.