International students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status must be enrolled full-time each semester (fall and spring) in order to maintain valid student visa status. Students required to take English Language Institute (ELI) courses may count ELI credits (3 credits per course) as part of their full-time course load.
Minimum credit hours for full-time enrollment:
|Level of Study||Minimum full-time enrollment
requirement each semester
|Undergraduate||12 credit hours|
|Graduate||8 credit hours|
|Graduate w/ Graduate Assistantship||6 credit hours|
|Graduate in thesis/dissertation stage||1 credit hour of 700F or 800|
Under certain circumstances, international students may receive authorization from the ISS to enroll for less than full-time. RCL request forms are available at the ISS office or on the forms page. Requests must be submitted to and approved by ISS BEFORE a student drops below full-time.
The allowable reasons include:
- academic difficulties (including initial English language difficulties)
- having an illness or medical condition documented by a licensed physician
- preparation for and taking doctoral comprehensive exams
- last semester of study that requires less than full time course load
Online classes: F-1 and J-1 students may enroll in online classes. But online class enrollment has certain restrictions that affect full-time enrollment requirements and student visa status in the U.S.
Completely online programs: Due to online class restrictions, F-1 and J-1 students may not enroll in completely online programs.
General definitions: Online classes and completely online programs (degree and/or certificate) do not require any physical presence in the classroom and are subject to enrollment restrictions. However, hybrid online classes, where coursework is completed through a combination of online and in-class participation, are not subject to enrollment restrictions.
NOTE #1: Different online class restrictions - F-1 immigration regulations are different from J-1 immigration regulations with regard to online class restrictions affecting full-time enrollment requirements. (See chart above for full-time enrollment requirements.)
- F-1 students: Per F-1 regulations, F-1 students may only apply 3 online credit hours to meet the minimum full-time enrollment requirement. After the minimum full-time enrollment requirement has been met, students may enroll in additional online classes. Therefore, if enrolling in online classes:
- Undergraduate students must register for a minimum of 9 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes, plus 3 (or more) online credit hours.
- Graduate students must register for a minimum of 5 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes, plus 3 (or more) online credit hours.
- Graduate Assistants must register for a minimum of 3 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes, plus 3 (or more) online credit hours.
- J-1 students: Per J-1 regulations, J-1 students may not apply any online credit hours to meet the minimum full-time enrollment requirement. Therefore, if enrolling in online classes:
- Undergraduate students must register for a minimum of 12 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes – before enrolling in online credit hours.
- Graduate students must register for a minimum of 8 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes – before enrolling in online credit hours.
- Graduate Assistants must register for a minimum of 6 credit hours of in-class or hybrid online classes – before enrolling in online credit hours.
NOTE #2: Students with other visa statuses - If a student has a non-immigrant visa status other than F-1 or J-1 student visa status – i.e., J-2 dependent of a J-1 student, H-1B worker, H-4 dependent of H-1B, etc., then online class restrictions do not apply.
NOTE #3: Taking online classes from abroad - If enrolled in online classes while remaining outside the U.S., then online class restrictions do not apply.
NOTE #4: Summer enrollment - In general, online class restrictions do not apply to summer term enrollment.
NOTE #5: Last semester/Last term - If students are in their last semester or term and need only one course to complete their program of study (or graduate), the course cannot be completed through online coursework. This restriction applies to completion of program occurring during the fall or spring semesters and summer terms.
If you have any questions, please schedule an advising appointment with an ISS adviser.
Students may enroll concurrently at UH Mānoa and other school(s), as long as the combined course load constitutes a full time course load in addition to the following:
- Continue to make normal progress toward the degree/academic objective.
- Continue to take at least one credit-bearing class at UH Mānoa each semester concurrently enrolled.
- Enrolling concurrently at another campus in the UH system does not need advance authorization from the ISS.
- Enrolling concurrently at a non-UH campus will require advance authorization from an ISS adviser. Click here to schedule an ISS adviser appointment and bring proof of your registration at the other school. Dates of the term at the other school should be similar to the semester dates at UH Mānoa.
UH policy stipulates that all non-immigrant students must obtain adequate health insurance as a condition of enrollment. [see Health Insurance].