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International Student Services

Medical Reduced Course Load

As an F-1 student, maintaining full-time enrollment is what keeps you in status.

However, sometimes an unforeseen medical issue occurs which could prevent you from enrolling full-time. Here at ISS, we care about your health, and immigration regulations do make allowances for these types of problems. F-1 students can be granted up to 12 months of a medical reduced course load maximum. Because of the semester lengths, this means that USC students can be granted up to 2 semesters maximum. Medical reduced course loads are granted on a semester-by-semester basis.

What is a reduced course load?

A reduced course load allows you to enroll less-than full time and still maintain immigration requirements.

In order to apply for a medical reduced course load, you need to submit the following documents to an international student advisor:

  • A Medical Reduced Course Load Application, located in our Forms Library
  • A Doctor's Note that states you cannot enroll full-time and provides an explanation. This explanation does not need to include your personal medical history, but it does need to specifically state that you cannot enroll full-time or should not enroll at all. This Doctor's Note must be from a Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. (We cannot accept documentation from Licensed Professional Counselors.)

Your Medical Reduced Course Load Application should be submitted at the beginning of the semester, before the Add/Drop Date.

Once your application is submitted, an international student advisor will review your application and follow up with you. If you have specific questions, please contact our Manager of Immigration Compliance or email

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