Practical Training

Learn about visa requirements and additional programs that can expand your U.S. learning experience.


Questions about your status or requirements

Please contact the International Programs Department :
Email :
Call : 408-450-4945.


Maintaining your student status: F-1 Visas

Take At Least 12 Units Per Quarter

 All students with F-1 immigration status must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units each quarter. One online class may be part of this 12-unit minimum (3 units of online education is the maximum allowed). A hybrid (classroom/online combination) is not considered an online class, so you may take as many of these as you wish.

Students may take less than 12 units in their final (usually 3rd) quarter to complete a certificate with the International Student Advisor's approval. You must request to enroll with a reduced course load before the start of a quarter.


Some professional certificates do not offer 12 units per quarter. In this case, international students may:

  • Enroll in other certificate courses. Please consult your Academic program contact before enrolling.
  • Enroll in a 3 unit internship. Click here for additional information regarding our Internship for Credit Program.
  • Enroll in courses at another institution. Students should consult with the International Student Advisor before enrolling. Click here for guidelines regarding enrollment at another school, other than UCSC Main Campus.
  • Take courses at UCSC Main Campus through UCSC Extension’s Open Campus Concurrent Enrollment ProgramStudents should consult the International Student Advisor if they plan to enroll in this program. Please keep in mind our main campus is 40 miles from Silicon Valley.


Professional Certificates, Additional F-1 Requirements

I-20 And SEVIS Reporting Requirements

International students must have a valid I-20 at all times. If an international student’s address or program changes, the student must report this information to the International Student Advisor as soon as possible.


International students who wish to depart the country and return to study must have the International Student Advisor sign page 3 of their I-20 before departure. Please contact the International Office at least 3 weeks prior to your trip in order to obtain this signature. Students will be required to present their valid passport, I-94 and current F-1 visa at the border.

Vacation Quarter

After 9 months of full-time study, students can take one quarter off as vacation if they are planning to continue their studies the following quarter. Students cannot take a vacation quarter and then immediately transfer to another school or apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) without resuming their studies. Students cannot enroll in courses in the certificate program when taking a vacation quarter. International students interested in taking a vacation quarter should contact the International Student Advisor to obtain appropriate authorization in SEVIS.