Academic Requirements for Visa Eligibility

As an international student at the University of Maryland you will be holding either a F-1 or J-1 Visa. Everyone under these Visas must be registered full-time for both the Fall and Spring semesters. Otherwise, your Visa can be revoked without notice, and you will be considered to be staying in the US illegally. Therefore, it is important that you keep track of the number of courses (or units) in which you enroll.  Please, refer to the International Student & Scholar Services New International Student Checklist for more information on Visa eligibility, including non-academic related issues. Below is information pulled from that website.

Students who are unable to enroll full-time because of an extraordinary health or academic reason must obtain approval from an international student advisor BEFORE dropping or withdrawing from a course. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not require students to be enrolled during their annual vacations (summer and winter) unless it is their final term

All graduate students must register for and complete a minimum of 8 graduate units each semester to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  • Graduate students do not have to be enrolled full-time during their last term of study if they have less than 48 units remaining in their program, but they must obtain approval for this part-time enrollment before the end of the drop/add period of their final semester.
  • Continuous registration is required of all doctoral students until they complete their degree requirements. The Graduate School states that once doctoral students have advanced to candidacy they must register every semester for CHEM 899 or BCHM 899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research). This course will carry 6 credit hours (108 units) and candidates will be registered automatically for 6 credits of 899 each semester.

Following is a handy table in converting credits taken into units. Remember, you need at least 48 per semester. 

Course number : Graduate units per credit hour

000 – 399 : 2 units per credit hour
400 – 499 : 4 units
500 – 599 : 5 units
600 – 897 : 6 units
799 : 12 units
898 (Pre-Candidacy Research) : 18 units
899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) : 18 units
20-hour-per-week graduate assistantship : 24 units
10-hour-per-week graduate assistantship : 12 units

The following are English courses in case you have been admitted under provisional status.

UMEI 005 : 6 units
UMEI 006 : 2 units
UMEI 007 : 4 units
UMEI 008 : 2 units

For example, the typical Fall Semester of a Biochemistry 1st-year student requires him/her to be enrolled in BCHM 661 (2 credits), BCHM 662 (2 credits), BCHM 671 (3 credits), BCHM 699 (2 credits), and BCHM 889A (1 credit). According to the table above, this student is enrolled for a total of 60 units, thus satisfying the enrollment requirement.