Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Rules

 

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate international students are required to enroll in a full course load for the Fall and Spring semesters in order to maintain their U.S. immigration status. A full course load for undergraduate students is defined by immigration rules as 12 credit hours or more per semester. Recipients of UNM scholarships must enroll in 15 new credit hours (no repeated courses) to maintain their scholarship. International students are not required to enroll in courses during the summer session, but may choose to.

 

Graduate Students

A full course load for graduate students is defined as 9 credit hours, or 6 credits with an assistantship authorized by the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS). International students are not required to enroll in courses during the summer session, but may choose to.

 

All Students

  • No international student may drop below the required number of credits in the Fall and Spring semesters except under extremely limited circumstances that must be authorized in advance by an international student advisor.
  • Getting a grade of W, WP, or WF in a course means that you officially have dropped or been dropped by the professor/instructor from that course and are no longer enrolled in it. Therefore, the credit hours for that course will not count toward your full-time requirement, even if you completed all course requirements.
  • Classes that are taken for a grade of Audit also do NOT count toward the full-time requirement.
  • Under normal immigration rules (non-COVID), ONLY 3 CREDIT HOURS of online or distance education courses can be counted toward the minimum full-time requirement. While students are permitted to take more online courses, only 3 credits can be counted toward full-time.
  • Finally, summer is considered vacation time and students are not required to enroll in summer courses unless they are beginning their program then.

Enrollment Exceptions

 

Undergraduate Students

  • International undergraduate students in their final semester of study may be considered full-time with fewer than 12 credit hours as they are allowed to take only what they have left to complete their program requirements.

  • In order to qualify, the student's academic advisor must complete a Certificate of Completion of Formal Course Requirements and the form must be submitted to GEO at the beginning of the semester for which the student will enroll for fewer credit hours than full-time.

 

Graduate Students

  • International graduate students in their final semester of study may be considered full-time with fewer than 12 credit hours as they are allowed to take only what they have left to complete their program requirements.
  • Graduate students who have completed all coursework and other degree requirements excluding the comprehensive requirement (such as Comprehensive Exam, Thesis or Dissertation) may be considered full- time with fewer credit hours and may take comprehensive credits only.
  • In order to qualify, the student's advisor must complete the Certificate of Completion of Formal Course Requirements and the form must be submitted to GEO at the beginning of the semester for which the student will enroll for fewer credit hours than full-time. This form must be resubmitted every semester if the student plans to continue to enroll in fewer hours than full-time for multiple semesters.

Part Time Excuses

  • Limited excuses exist for dropping below full-time enrollment as defined below.

  • All excuses must be authorized in advance by an international student advisor in the Global Education Office (GEO). Students who drop below full-time without being authorized are in violation of their immigration status and must be reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within 21 days of the date they dropped below full-time.

  • The legally permissible part-time excuses and required proof are:

 

Academic Excuses

One time only during program of study.
  • Initial difficulties with reading requirements- First year of study only; bring a letter from your professor or instructor recommending that you drop below full-time because of this reason.
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods- First year of study only; bring a letter from your professor or instructor recommending that you drop below full-time because of this reason.
  • Improper course level placement- This means placement in a course for which one does not have the required pre-requisites; bring a letter from your academic advisor recommending that you take less than full-time because of this reason.

 

Medical Excuses

A medical excuse may be granted for a maximum aggregate total of 12 months with a written doctor's excuse. Bring a letter documenting the illness and recommending that you take less than full-time written and signed by a licensed physician or psychologist.

Enrollment Requirements During COVID

Immigration rules normally restrict the number of hours of online classes that can be counted toward a student's full-time minimum enrollment requirement.  During COVID these rules have been altered to the following:

1) Students who were in the US in student immigration status BEFORE March 10, 2020 may take all online classes through the Spring 2022 semester.

2) Students who began student immigration status in the US AFTER March 9, 2020 must have at least one face-to-face component each semester (cannot study 100% on line) through the Spring 2022 semester.

It is presumed that normal online restrictions will apply again beginning Summer 2022.  These normal restrictions state that only 3 credits of online coursework can count toward a student's full time minimum enrollment requirement for immigration purposes.