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 registration for 12 credits to be full-time for undergraduates, and 9 credits for graduate students. This same allows for several deviations on full-time study. 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
  • to complete course of study in current term
  • 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 demanded by the Office of International Students.

Special Notes and Limitations

  • The Office of International Students 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. If you are in your last semester, USCIS does not need to be notified of your part-time status, and therefore it does not count as your one-time deviation from full-time study.
  • When filing for illness or medical condition, you are allowed to file for as long as 12 aggregate months during any one course of study. You must re-file for RCL during the registration period of each term.

Immigration Attorneys

If for any reason there are questions that the Office of International Students 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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