Part-Time Attendance Policy for F-1 Visa Holders
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) requires schools to electronically report the number of credits F-1 students enroll in each semester. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require students in F-1 nonimmigrant status to attend college on a full-time basis and define full-time as at least 12 required credit hours per semester. Only the following exceptions are allowed:
- During a vacation semester: Students who meet DHS vacation semester guidelines and the College’s part-time criteria may enroll in less than 12 credits during a DHS-approved vacation semester with authorization from the Counseling and Advising Center (CAC). To maintain valid nonimmigrant status, students are required to complete a Vacation form at the Counseling and Advising Center and to enroll in the semester immediately following an annual vacation.
- To complete course of study in current term: Students who have fewer than 12 required credits and no prerequisite sequences remaining and will satisfy all graduation requirements during that semester may enroll part-time in their final semester. Failure to complete the course of study will result in termination of the SEVIS record, loss of F1 status and loss of F1 benefits (such as Post-Completion Optional Practical Training).
- Documented Illness or Medical Condition: A student may be allowed to enroll in less than 12 credits if sufficient medical documentation from a U.S. licensed medical doctor (defined by DHS as a Doctor of Osteopathy, Doctor of Medicine, or a Licensed Clinical Psychologist) is submitted to the Counseling and Advising Center. This basis for part-time authorization must be reestablished each semester that part-time is granted. Documentation requirements and more information may be obtained at the Counseling and Advising Center.
Students must obtain authorization from the Counseling and Advising Center prior to enrolling in less than 12 credits. If students fall below 12 credits without prior approval, under SEVIS requirements this is considered a “reportable event” and the College is required to report it to the DHS within twenty-one days. If the reason for less than full-time attendance is not among those listed above, the college is required to report the student’s F-1 status to DHS as “terminated”. Authorization for enrollment in fewer than 12 credits may effect scholarship award; students must check with the Scholarship Office prior to enrolling in fewer than 12 credits.
Students in their first or second semester of undergraduate study in the United States may be permitted to complete less than 12 credits, if they are having initial difficulties with the English language or reading requirements, or unfamiliarity with American teaching methods. Students must receive a recommendation from their teacher(s) and authorization from their International Advisor prior to going below 12 credits and resume full-time attendance at the next available semester.
When a student does not have 12 required credits remaining but cannot complete their program in the current semester due to prerequisites, he/she will need to enroll in classes not required for their program in order to maintain F-1 status. Students are responsible for their academic decisions. Therefore, Berklee strongly encourages students to plan their coursework with an academic and international student advisor each semester to develop an immediate and a long-term study plan that will maximize their meeting DHS enrollment requirements during their course of study.
Any international student wanting to enroll in fewer than 12 credits must see an international advisor in the Counseling and Advising Center. Failure to maintain full-time status has serious implications, such as inability to have an I-20 signed, loss of work permission, and/or being required to leave the U.S. It is your responsibility to maintain status.
Students authorized for part-time status by the published deadline will be charged on a per credit basis.