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LEC International Education Information

Here, you will find important information related to international students at CU’s Louisville Education Center. Use the links below to find the information you seek.

Quick Links


Employment in F-1 Status

Applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT “is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” CPT “may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis in” an SEVP approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)

“An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)

Our Graduate Catalog provides further clarity regarding the university’s definition of “integral” as it pertains to our CPT program and the established curriculum.

CPT Requirements

  1. Enrollment in a full-course of study. Campbellsville University has defined full-time status for a student as 6 credit hours per semester. Students may only be exempt from the full-time requirement if they are approved for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) as defined in 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(vi) or if in their final term and fewer than a full course load is required to complete the program as described in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(A).
  2. Enrollment in BA 500: Experiential Learning Seminar
  3. Demonstrate a minimum of a 2.0 CGPA (Unless applying for authorization in the first semester).
  4. Complete and submit a CPT Cooperation Agreement signed and dated by both the student and employer.
  5. Submit an offer letter of employment on company letterhead that is signed and dated by the employer. CPT employment must be DIRECTLY related to the student’s major program of study. The offer letter must specify the following:
    • Job Title
    • Job Description listing specific job duties and responsibilities
    • Specifies whether the position is part-time or full-time
    • Specifies the location where the student will be physically working.

Application Processing Time:

Step One: Enroll for BA 500 each term of CPT engagement

Step Two: Apply for CPT each term. Use link provided by ISS for application and complete CPT form, which is 100% online. Your employer will receive an email prompter to complete Employer Form for CPT application.

Step Three: After Enrollment Management’s review of completed application for academic eligibility, ISS authorizes CPT employment in SEVIS by adding start and end dates within the term, and employer information, which show on the Form I-20. It takes 10 business days to process CPT application.

Step Four: CPT is authorized for a specific employer. If you change employer, return to STEP ONE.

Step Five: Complete BA 500 course, which ties theories learned in the classroom to practice on CPT employment. If you continue with the same employer, apply for CPT Renewal when prompted by ISS for the next term and re-enroll in BA 500.

NOTE:

  • If GPA is under 2.0, student is ineligible for CPT.
  • At the Louisville Education Center (LEC), CPT application is 100% online. Please follow the link below, fill out the information accurately and ISS will process your application in a timely manner. Link: https://tigernet.campbellsville.edu/ICS/Forms/CPT-OPT/
  • Any paper applications submitted after May 14, 2018 will not be accepted and emails sent to practicaltraining@campbellsville.edu will not be answered.

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International Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience, related to your chosen field of study, for a maximum of one year. Its purpose is to complement your academic work during or upon completion of undergraduate, graduate and/or doctoral degree levels of education.

Optional practical training is available both before (Pre-Completion OPT) and after (Post-Completion OPT) “completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding dissertation).”

English as Second Language (ESL) program or non-degree seeking programs are ineligible for OPT.

Students will send all documents to their International Student Advisor for review.

Please click on each link to get to the item on this page:

Types of OPT

Post-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT is for F-1 students who have completed “their course of student, or, for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent).” Students may be authorized to participate in Post-Completion OPT after they have been enrolled for one full academic year. In order to be eligible for Post-Completion OPT, students must:

  • Have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at least for one full academic year (two terms at Campbellsville University).
  • Have less than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at the same educational level and school.
  • Be currently in F-1 status.
  • Have met the degree program/course requirements

Students can apply up to 90 days before their program completion date, and USCIS should receive applications no later than 60 days after students’ program completion date. The application process for Post-Completion OPT can take up to 90 days processing time by the USCIS.

Students may begin engaging in Post-Completion OPT only once they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Employment must be within the authorized dates listed on the EAD card. The starting date for the Post-Completion will be the date requested by the student or the date that is approved on the EAD card.

The Post-Completion OPT must “directly be related to the student’s major area of study.” Students authorized to participate in Post-Completion OPT must work at least 20 hours per week. Students can change employers during post-completion OPT. Students must report employer changes to the ISS.

Students on Post-Completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment. Students are responsible to keep track of their unemployment days. Students are required to report their employment status to ISS. SEVIS will terminated the F1 records of students who exceed 90 days of unemployment. This means they will no longer have F1 status.

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Application Procedures

  • For standard post-completion OPT, the Form I-765 must be received by the USCIS Service Center no more than 90 days prior to the Program End Date listed on the student’s I-20, and no later than 60 days after the Program End Date listed on the student’s I-20.
  • In addition, the Form I-765 in support of post-completion OPT must be received by the USCIS Service Center no later than 30 days after the Designated School Official (DSO) submits the OPT recommendation to SEVIS and prepares your new OPT I-20.
  • From ISS email with OPT attachments, complete OPT Application Form to request OPT I-20 from your International Student Advisor (ISA) at Louisville Education Center (LEC).
  • Use most recent Form I-765. Complete form electronically by TYPING your information. Do not submit, instead, print typed form.

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Gather the following required documents and organize them before mailing.

  • Two (2) current passport size photographs of yourself. (Photos must be taken within 30 days of filing the form.). Lightly print in pencil your name and your I-94 Admission Number on the back of photos and place in small envelope with your name and I-94 admission number on the front of the envelope
  • Prepare a personal check or money order for $410.00 USD
    • Instructions on how to complete a money order can be found here, Money Order Help
    • Instruction on paying USCIS immigration fees can be found here: USCIS Paying Immigration Fees
    • Make the check / money order payable to: US Department of Homeland Security
  • Make a copy of your current and ALL previous I-20’s issued to you, especially those on which CPT or OPT was granted previously, so that all prior periods of CPT and OPT, and whether they were for full-time or part-time training, can be reviewed by USCIS.
  • Make one copy of your passport information and picture page.
  • Make one copy of your F-1 Visa.
  • Print a copy of your I-94 from the following webpage: I-94 Webpage
  • Make one copy of your social security card (if applicable)
    • A social security card is not required to apply for OPT
  • Download a copy of your Unofficial Transcripts from TigerNet
    • You must have your account paid in full to have access to your unofficial transcripts on TigerNet
  • Make one copy of any previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (if applicable)
    • If you have previously applied for OPT and withdrawn your application, you will to make a copy of your confirmation receipt of the withdrawal or any document from USCIS confirming your denial of or withdrawal of an OPT application.
  • Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisors (ISA) / Designated School Official (DSO) at LEC to review your OPT materials and generate your OPT request I-20.
  • Include a copy of your new OPT I-20 in the packet to USCIS. Remember to sign it before making a copy.

PLEASE NOTE: The Form I-765 must be properly and timely filed with USCIS. The student must file an OPT application (signed I-765, signed I-20, and required documents, including fee) within 30 days of the DSO’s OPT recommendation in SEVIS (this is the date at the bottom of your OPT Request I-20 next to the DSO’s signature), and within other OPT filing deadlines.

Mailing your OPT documents: To USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS):

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

14-month window to use standard 12-month post-completion OPT

For standard post-completion OPT, the requested employment start date may not be more than 60 days after the student’s program end date, and all standard post-completion OPT must be completed within the 14-month period following the completion of study.

8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(D) 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(3)

NOTE:
The latest expiration date on a standard post-completion OPT EAD will be 14 months after the program end date. If a student’s EAD begins shortly after the program end date, a full 12 months can easily fit into the 14-month window. For students whose EADs are approved more than 60 days after the program end date, a full 12 months cannot fit into the 14-month window. In that case, the OPT period will be truncated, and the student will lose practical training time. Students should bear this in mind when timing their OPT application submission.

students in classroom

24-Month STEM Extension OPT

F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field. On May 10, 2016, this extension effectively replaced the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension. Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.

If you earned a previous STEM degree from an accredited US institution, you may be eligible for the STEM OPT extension, provided the degree is on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List.

You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20.

Entrepreneurship and Employer-Employee Relationships

F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983 because F-1 students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf. However, STEM OPT applicants can participate in a start-up or small business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

These requirements mandate that the company remains in good standing with E-Verify and has the resources to comply with the proposed training plan.

STEM OPT Extension Overview

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Requirements for the STEM OPT Extension

To qualify for the 24-month extension, you must:

  • Have been granted 12-month OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
  • Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application.
  • Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a previous STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.

Example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in business administration but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree as long as it is from an accredited U.S. college or university and the OPT employment opportunity is directly related to your bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

  • STEM degrees you obtain in the future: If you enroll in a new academic program in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.

Example: If you receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree in engineering and you later earn a master’s degree in engineering, you may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your master’s degree.

  • Must have offer of paid employment for at least 20 hours per week from an employer.
  • Work for an employer that is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • STEM OPT employer must provide the student with formal training and learning objectives.
  • Student must complete a Form I-765.
  • Student and employer must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan;
  • Student must present completed I-983 to ISA / DSO prior to DSO’s STEM OPT recommendation in SEVIS.

The start date of the 24-month OPT Extension will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current Post-Completion OPT authorization. The end date will be 24 months later, and it is not possible to request a shorter or longer period.

If the application for the 24-month OPT Extension is successfully received prior to the expiration of the Post-Completion OPT period, students may continue employment until the application is approved or until 180 days from the 24-month OPT Extension receipt notice date; whichever is sooner.

For more information on 24-month STEM OPT, check STEM OPT Hub.

Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)

Reporting Requirements for 24-month STEM OPT Extension

6-month Validation Report

Students approved for the 24-month OPT Extension have additional reporting requirements in order to maintain their status and work authorization. These students are required to send the following information to ISS every six months, even if there has not been any change to their employment or address:

  • Legal name
  • Residential or mailing address
  • Employer name
  • Employer address, and/or
  • Interruption or loss of employment

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International Students

Unemployment Days, Reporting Employment and Change of Address During Optional Practical Training (OPT)

On Post-Completion OPT, when students are not employed, days get subtracted from their 90 days of unemployment. Students on the 24-month OPT extension have 150 days unemployment during the “total OPT period” (including the initial Post-Completion OPT from which 24 months has been extended).

Students are responsible for tracking their unemployment days. When students pass the permitted unemployment days, USCIS shuts down their SEVIS records.

Note: OPT employment must be in the U.S.

As soon as students have found employment (whether paid or unpaid, part-time or full time), they should report their updated employment status to ISS.

While on OPT, students must continue to update ISS regarding their residential address. Residential address cannot be a P.O. Box or an office address. Students are required to send changes to their residential address within 10 business days of the change to ISS.

Using USCIS Portal to Report Address Changes

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Following Up with an OPT Application

Student who include a Form G-1145 (optional form) to their OPT application package will get notified via e-mail or cellphone by USCIS about the reception of their OPT application package. The message provides a receipt number, but does not constitute the official notice of acceptance. The message notice also provides a brief statement on how to get additional information about the status of the OPT application. The message does not grant any immigration status or benefit. Download the Form G-1145 [PDF].

Approximately 2 to 4 weeks after student has mailed application, USCIS sends Receipt Notice. The notice states the date when application was received, and gives student an application receipt number. Student can use the number to check application status on the USCIS website. It takes a minimum of 3 months for USCIS to adjudicate OPT application.

Student has to use a valid mailing address where communication from the USCIS can be directly received. ISS is not responsible for loss or delay of OPT application. For questions on lost or delayed applications, students should contact USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283.

Once approved, USCIS sends the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to student. The EAD bears OPT Start and End Dates, plus, the student’s photograph. Student must wait until OPT Start Date before engaging in OPT employment and must cease from working after OPT End Date.

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Traveling on Post-Completion OPT and 24-Month OPT Extension

After applying for OPT, traveling is not recommended while the status of the application is pending. However, in case of an emergency, students who leave the U.S. and wish to come back before the start date of their OPT must show special documentation.

If OPT is pending (not yet approved), it is advisable not to travel because it could connote abandonment of OPT application.

If OPT is approved, students need the following documents to reenter the U.S.:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp
  • I-20 with OPT recommendation and recent travel signature (within past 6 months)
  • Unexpired EAD card
  • Proof of employment (offer letter or employment confirmation letter from employer)

Readmission to the U.S. is at the discretion of the officer at the point of entry

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Health Insurance Coverage

Health Insurance is now available to all students. You will find below the link with information along with the link to apply.

Here are the various costs for the levels of the plans, depending on student’s
ages: https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/student-health-insurance/premiums.php

Students are welcome to purchase the plan individually at any time via the link below. Student’s will be required to pay in full for the full period of time they’re purchasing insurance.
https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/schools/campbellsville-university.php

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Completion/Termination of OPT

Once an EAD card is expired, students have a 60-day grace period. Students are no longer authorized to work during the grace period. Before the grace period is over, students must do one of the followings:

  • Transfer to a new academic program (please see section 14 for Transfer-Out)
  • Depart the U.S. (before the 60-day grace period ends)
  • Change their status if other visa sponsorship is available (e.g. H1-B).

Note: Only those students who complete their OPT will receive the grace period. Students who have exceeded the 90-day unemployment are not eligible for a grace period.

Authorization to engage in OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins studying at another educational level.

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Severe Economic Hardship for F-1 Students

Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]

Severe economic hardship employment is occasionally authorized by USCIS. The authorization is usually for 1 year at a time to address major, unforeseen financial needs beyond an F1 student’s control that arose after the student began enrollment. Authorization is granted only after all other potential employment opportunities have proven insufficient. Examples include:

  • loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
  • substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
  • inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
  • unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills, or other substantial and unexpected expenses.

Note: pregnancy and related costs are not considered unforeseen.

Scope of Employment and Limitations

  • The work performed can be in any type of job, not just related to the field of study.
  • The work can be done in addition to a CPT or other on-campus employment.
  • The authorization is automatically terminated if the student changes schools or loses F1 status, regardless of the dates on the EAD card.
  • A change of program or degree level at the same school is permitted and will not affect this type of authorization.

Eligibility

You are eligible to apply for employment authorization based on severe economic hardship if:

  • You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year (two terms at Campbellsville University).
  • You are in good academic standing and enrolled full-time.
  • Employment will not interfere with your studies.
  • You can demonstrate: A. the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control. B. the needs creating the hardship were also unforeseen. C. on-campus employment opportunities are not available or they are insufficient to meet your need.

Advice: Have you considered CPT? This is another valid form of employment that has $0 application fee, and has the advantage of potential income, work experience, and academic credit. Ask your international student advisor (or DSO) if this might be an option.

Required Documentation

  • A succinct, factual and well-prepared personal statement addressed to USCIS. You may use the greeting, “Dear Immigration Officer,” on your statement. In your statement, describe the unforeseen hardship situation in detail. Backup documentation is suggested – for example: news articles, a letter from home telling of a change in family circumstances, or proof of a currency devaluation in your country, etc.
  • Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Copies of your current and previous I-20s
  • Copy of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions)
  • Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
  • Copy of your unofficial transcript available from TigerNet
  • Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
  • Check or money order for $410 payable to USCIS
  • Two full-face passport style photos:
    • must be color, identical, with a plain background and without wearing glasses.
    • no more than 30 days old at the time of the application.
    • put photos in a plain, white envelope with the check attached to the envelop. Do not staple. Use a paperclip.

Office of International Student Services (ISS) will prepare an updated I-20 that indicates a request for Economic Hardship Authorization. Put this together with all the above materials in your application. Once you have all the documents, you will need to prepare and submit the above-mentioned items to USCIS in one packet at your own expense.

How to Apply

  • Using the Help Desk Ticket, contact ISS requesting a new I-20 for Severe Economic Hardship. Include your mailing address in the ticket message.
  • ISS will send your request to SEVIS electronically. This will generate a new SEVIS I-20. The recommendation for this benefit will appear on page 2 of the new I-20.
  • ISSS will mail the new I-20 to you once issued.
  • Upon receipt, sign your I-20 immediately.
  • Mail your request to USCIS. See below.

Where to File

Applications from Kentucky should go to:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

If application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to you. If application is denied, you will be notified by USCIS in writing but you may not appeal. The fee is nonrefundable.

Starting Work

  1. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD.
  2. Authorization is granted in 1-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies.
  3. You may work part time with the EAD when school is in session but you must be enrolled as a full-time student. You may work full time with the EAD during vacations.
  4. The employment does not have to be related to course of study and it does not count towards the 20-hour on campus maximum. You are advised to find employment relevant to your career goals, but that is not required.

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student on computer

Exceptions to the Full-Course of Study Requirement or Reduced Course Load (RCL)

A student could be granted “reduced course load” (commonly abbreviated as “RCL”) and have SEVIS record updated, to allow student drop below full course of study after consultations with the Office of International Student Services. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status.

In extreme situations, if student’s circumstance requires “no course load” it may be granted after tender of relevant / required documentation.

Regulation Citation 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)

iii) Reduced course load. The designated school official may allow an F-1 student to engage in less than a full course of study as provided in this paragraph (f)(6)(iii). Except as otherwise noted, a reduced course load must consist of at least six semester or quarter hours, or half the clock hours required for a full course of study. A student who drops below a full course of study without the prior approval of the DSO will be considered out of status. On-campus employment pursuant to the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship is deemed to be part of the academic program of a student otherwise taking a full course of study.

(A) Academic difficulties. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load on account of a student’s initial difficulty with the English language or reading requirements, unfamiliarity with U.S. teaching methods, or improper course level placement. The student must resume a full course of study at the next available term, session, or semester, excluding a summer session, in order to maintain student status. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to academic difficulties is not eligible for a second authorization by the DSO due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that program level. A student authorized to drop below a full course of study for academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at a particular program level may still be authorized for a reduced course load due to an illness medical condition as provided for in paragraph (B) of this section.

(B) Medical conditions. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. In order to authorize a reduced course load based upon a medical condition, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must reauthorize the drop below full course of study each new term, session, or semester. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by a DSO to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same program level. A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months.

(C) Completion of course of study. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study. If the student is not required to take any additional courses to satisfy the requirements for completion, but continues to be enrolled for administrative purposes, the student is considered to have completed the course of study and must take action to maintain status. Such action may include application for change of status or departure from the U.S.

Reasons for RCL

SEVIS limits the reasons for which an RCL can be granted to seven choices.

  1. Illness or Medical Condition
  2. Initial Difficulty with English Language
  3. Initial Difficulty with Reading Requirements
  4. Unfamiliarity with American Teaching Methods
  5. Improper Course Level Placement
  6. To Complete Course of Study in Current Term
  7. Part Time Border Commuter Student

“Except as otherwise noted, a reduced course load must consist of at least … half the clock hours required for a full course of study.”

Resumption of full course of study in next available term
Students who are granted an RCL authorization on one of the academic difficulty bases must resume a full course of study in the next available term, session, or semester, excluding a non-required summer session, in order to maintain status.

Academic difficulty RCL focuses on educational level
The academic difficulty exception to the full course of study requirement focuses on educational level rather than a particular course of study. Therefore, if an F-1 student has already been authorized to drop below a full course of study at one program level, he or she is not eligible for a second authorization due to academic difficulties while pursuing a course of study at that same program level, even if the prior RCL was granted by another institution.

Illness or medical condition RCLs
An illness or other medical condition may justify an interruption or reduction in a full course of study.

8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(B)

(B) Medical conditions. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for a period of time not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months while the student is pursuing a course of study at a particular program level. In order to authorize a reduced course load based upon a medical condition, the student must provide medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist, to the DSO to substantiate the illness or medical condition. The student must provide current medical documentation and the DSO must reauthorize the drop below full time for each new term, session, or semester. A student previously authorized to drop below a full course of study due to illness or medical condition for an aggregate of 12 months may not be authorized by a DSO to reduce his or her course load on subsequent occasions while pursuing a course of study at the same program level. A student may be authorized to reduce course load for a reason of illness or medical condition on more than one occasion while pursuing a course of study, so long as the aggregate period of that authorization does not exceed 12 months.

The medical condition must be substantiated by “medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist.” RCLs for medical conditions can be granted for no more than 12 months in the aggregate during any one course of study. Like all reduced course load authorizations, RCL authorizations for medical reasons must be approved by the DSO prior to the reduction in course load. The rule also requires the DSO to reauthorize the RCL each new term or session.

Note: As the DSO, you do not have to concur with the medical reason. You must document the reason and then ensure that the student does not exceed the authorized amount of time at less than a full course load.

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Completing the course of study during the final term

“The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study.” 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iii)(C)

(C) Completion of course of study. The DSO may authorize a reduced course load in the student’s final term, semester, or session if fewer courses are needed to complete the course of study. If the student is not required to take any additional courses to satisfy the requirements for completion, but continues to be enrolled for administrative purposes, the student is considered to have completed the course of study and must take action to maintain status. Such action may include application for change of status or departure from the U.S.

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A Second Consecutive Final-Term RCL (but not a third)

According to SEVP’s Online DSO Training Text, if a student is registered for less than full time during the final semester does not finish as expected because the student fails one of the final semester courses, a second consecutive reduced course load is permitted, but that second RCL should be reflected in SEVIS, and a student is not eligible for a third final-term reduced course load.

“If a student fails a course during the last term consisting of a reduced course load, the student may again have a final session with less than a full course load. A second consecutive authorization for a reduced course load in a student’s final semester should be reported in SEVIS in order to ensure that the student is continuing to make progress toward program completion.

If a student does not finish the program of study after a second final term or session with a reduced course load, the student is not eligible for a third reduced course load.”

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