As we near the end of the academic, the International Center is sending this important information regarding the impact of course withdrawals ("W" grades) on F-1 or J-1 immigration status.
If you are a F-1 or J-1 student, you are normally required to be enrolled in a full course of study every fall and spring semester. A full course of study is defined as a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students and a minimum of 9 credits for graduate and professional students who are still engaged in coursework (exceptions apply to graduate students who have assistantships or who are at the thesis / dissertation stage). Enrolling below these minimum credits is not permitted unless the International Center has authorized a reduced course load in advance.
Given these requirements, students should be aware that courses that are withdrawn do NOT count toward the full-time minimum for F-1 or J-1 visa purposes. Consequently, students should not withdraw from classes if by doing so they will fall below 12 remaining credits (for undergraduates) or 9 remaining credits (for graduate / professional students). Withdrawals are permitted as long as the remaining credits are at or above the minimum enrollment requirements.
For example, an undergraduate student taking 15 credits may withdraw from a 3-credit course, since the student will still be taking at least 12 credits. However, if the student is taking only 12 credits, and withdraws from a 3-credit course, the student will fall below the 12 credit minimum and potentially be in violation of their visa.
If you are thinking about withdrawing from a course, you should not do so unless you have consulted with your International Center advisor, especially if the remaining credits will take you below the full-time minimum needed to maintain valid F-1 or J-1 status. Please contact your advisor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.