Part-Time Attendance Policy for Students in F-1 Nonimmigrant Status

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) requires schools to 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 that for undergraduate students as at least 12 required credit hours per semester. 
 
Part-time enrollment is only allowed:
  • for the final semester when students have no sequences and fewer than 12 credits to complete; 
  • for a documented medical condition; or
  • for annual vacation (and the student must meet Berklee's part-time enrollment criteria).

Final Semester

The student's degree audit must show fewer than 12 credits needed to complete with no prerequisite sequences (for example, PIVC-211 and PIVC-212) remaining.

To request part-time status based on a final semester, students should complete the online Part-Time Status Request Form for International Students. An international advisor will review the academic evaluation and if the student meets the criteria, will approve part-time status and issue a new Form I-20. The end date of the student's Form I-20 will be updated to the end of the declared final term.

Documented Medical Condition

A student may enroll part-time if medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor (defined by the DHS as doctor of osteopathy, doctor of medicine, or licensed clinical psychologist) is submitted to International Student Services (ISS). A medical letter is valid for only one semester.

Documentation must be current and on official stationery from the doctor's office or hospital, and must include all of the following: 

  • The semester for which the letter is applicable (spring, summer, or fall) and year
  • The diagnosis and severity of the condition or illness
  • A statement that the medical condition/illness warrants enrollment in less than 12 credits
  • Specific types of coursework that should be avoided due to the condition
  • The doctor’s original signature and U.S. medical license number

Submission options:

  1. Submit the original letter to Disability Services.
  2. Mail the original letter to Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston Street, MS-921 IN, Boston, MA 02215.
  3. The medical provider may fax the letter to 617-747-2091.
  4. The medical provider may email or scan the letter from his or her office email account to iss@berklee.edu.

F-1 regulations permit up to 365 days for part-time enrollment due to medical reasons while in F-1 status.

To request part-time status based on a documented medical condition, students should schedule an appointment with Disability Services to submit and review required medical documentation. Based on a review of the medical documentation, Disability Services will approve or deny the request for a reduced course load, which results in part-time student status.

If the request is approved, Disability Services will notify ISS and provide them with a copy of the medical documentation, which will then determine eligibility for part-time status under F-1 regulations. ISS will issue a new I-20, as appropriate.  

Students who are approved by Disability Services but do not qualify for part-time status under F-1 regulations will be notified by ISS that they must maintain full-time enrollment. DHS allows students to be part time for medical reasons for no more than one year during the student's entire time of study in the U.S. 

Students who take a medical leave of absence (zero credit enrollment) in the fall are not eligible for Berklee-sponsored health insurance until their next enrolled term.

Annual Vacation

F-1 regulations require enrollment in two semesters per calendar year (January–December). Berklee offers three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall) each year. Students are expected to enroll full-time in the semester immediately following a declared vacation. Students who wish to enroll at Berklee during their annual vacation must meet the following Berklee part-time criteria:

Summer: The student must have been enrolled full-time in the spring and intend to enroll in the fall. To request part-time status based on an annual vacation in the summer, students must complete the online Part-Time Status Request Form for International Students.

Fall: The student must have been enrolled spring and summer and have fewer than 24 credits with a prerequisite sequence remaining to meet graduation requirements. To request part-time based on an annual vacation, students must complete the online Part-Time Status Request Form for International Students and a Vacation form with an international advisor. A new I-20 with vacation remarks will be issued and the vacation will be reported to DHS.

Spring: The student must have been enrolled in the previous fall term and either the spring or summer the year before and have fewer than 24 credits with a prerequisite sequence remaining to meet graduation requirements. To request part-time based on an annual vacation, students must complete the online Part-Time Status Request Form for International Students and a Vacation Form with an international advisor. A new I-20 with vacation remarks will be issued and the vacation will be reported to DHS.

Students in their first or second semester of undergraduate study in the U.S. may be permitted to complete fewer than 12 credits if they are having initial difficulties with the English language or reading requirements, or are unfamiliar with American teaching methods. Students must be registered for 12 credits and receive a recommendation from their teacher(s) and authorization from their international advisor prior to withdrawing below 12 credits, and they must resume full-time attendance at the next available semester. 

When students do not have 12 required credits remaining and cannot complete their program in the current semester due to prerequisites, they 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 submit an online Part-Time Status Request Form for International Students to request authorization for part-time enrollment. 

Note: failure to maintain full-time status has serious implications, such as an inability to have an I-20 signed, loss of work permission, and/or being required to leave the U.S. It is the responsibility of each student to maintain status.

Students authorized for part-time status by the published deadline will be charged on a per-credit basis.

Students must obtain authorization from an international  advisor prior to enrolling in fewer than 12 credits. If a student falls below 12 credits without prior approval, under SEVIS requirements this is considered a “reportable event” and the college is required to report it to DHS within 21 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 affect scholarship awards; students must check with Student Financial Services prior to enrolling in fewer than 12 credits.