International Current Students

Current International Students

Current International Students can use this page as a resource for guiding them through normal office practices and information. If you have a more complex question regarding your immigration status or need additional support, please email or call 203-254-4110. 

Reduced Course Load

Under U.S. federal immigration law, all F1 and J1 status holders are required to register and complete full-time studies each semester during the student's academic career. Fairfield University considers full-time registration for undergraduate students to be 12 credits, and 9 credits for graduate students. However, a student may be authorized for a reduced course load in certain extraordinary circumstances. These are:

  • illness or medical condition
  • initial difficulty with English language
  • initial difficulty with reading requirements
  • unfamiliarity with American teaching methods
  • improper course level placement
  • completing program requirements in that semester and require credits less than the full-time limits
  • part-time border commuter student

In order to file for a Reduced Course-Load (RCL) you have to complete the Reduced Course-Load application‌ and attach all evidential documentation as required by the Office of International Student Life.

Special Notes and Limitations

  • The Office of International Student Life must receive RCL applications no later than the student's registration date or withdrawal date from a course.
  • Failure to receive prior approval for part-time study is a violation of an international student's lawful status in the United States.
  • You are only allowed to file for RCL once per degree or academic level. Please note however, USCIS does not consider a reduced course load due to it being the final semester of study as counting towards the one RCL limit.
  • When filing a RCL due to a certified illness or medical condition, you are allowed to file for a total of 12 aggregate months during any one course of study. You must re-file for RCL before each term, as required.

Immigration Attorneys

If for any reason there are questions that the Office of International Student Life is not able to answer, or you are seeking to change your status from F-1, we recommend that you consult an immigration attorney. Please keep in mind that not all who claim to be immigration attorneys are certified and entitled to advise you. Fraud is very common in this field. Make sure to check credentials and references from the immigration lawyer you are seeking to work with.

While Fairfield University is unable to make specific recommendations on the choice of an attorney, we recommend visiting the lawyer locater service of the American Immigration Law Association (AILA) to find attorneys in the region who are AILA members and who practice in the field of immigration law. The link for the locator service is

These attorneys are neither approved nor endorsed by Fairfield University.

Work Authorization

There are three ways that F-1 International Students may be employed in the United States: campus employment, Curricular Practical Training, and Optional Practical Training. J-1 exchange students may seek employment as a part of their exchange program, on campus and off campus.

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