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International Student Services

Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance for Continuing Students

 Note that ISS guidance may change as additional guidance is released. Thank you for your patience as International Student Services has attempted to provide guidance regarding the dynamic and rapidly developing situation regarding COVID-19 ICE guidance. We are here for you.

Updated July 26th

On July 24, 2020, additional clarifying questions were released by SEVP. On July 14, 2020, the Fall 2020 Guidance released by ICE on July 6, 2020 was rescinded. SEVP will return to the status quo established by the March 9, 2020 policy and subsequent FAQs.

What This Means for International Students:

  • Students do not need new I-20s that detail the University's hybrid course structure for Fall 2020.
  • Current students who are outside of the U.S. can remain in SEVIS Active status if they meet all other F-1 requirements.
  • Current students do not have a face-to-face course mandate for Fall 2020. ISS does not intend to monitor the type of course in which our international students are enrolled for the Fall 2020 semester.
  • New students must enroll in at least one face-to-face course during the Fall 2020 semester to maintain status. 

Please note: This is a rapidly developing and fluid situation and is subject to change. ISS will continue to monitor the ICE Guidance Page and other official sources for updates and will share relevant information ASAP. Please continue to monitor this page, where we will post the most up-to-date information.

Frequently Asked Questions for Current Students

1. Do I have a requirement to attend in-person classes as an international student?

Under the SEVP Guidance for Spring/Fall 2020, F-1 students in the United States are permitted to take more than one online class and continue to maintain their immigration status. Current students do not have a face-to-face course requirement for Fall 2020. New students must enroll in at least one class must be in-person (face-to-face), hybrid, or blended with some type of face-to-face requirement. Review your course registration on your Self Service Carolina account to determine the type of classes in which you are enrolled.

2. I am currently outside the U.S. and do not intend to reenter for Fall 2020. What should I do? 

F-1 students currently abroad and not able to return to the United States for the fall semester may continue to enroll in all online classes. Your SEVIS record will remain active.

3. Do I need a new I-20 for the Fall 2020 semester? 

You do not need a new I-20 for the Fall 2020 semester. If you are outside of the U.S. and intend to reenter, you will need a travel signature within the last 12 months (or within the last 6 months if you are on OPT). You do not need a new F-1 visa if your current F-1 visa is valid.

4. According to the Fall 2020 class schedule, face-to-face courses will end on November 24th. Will this affect my immigration status?

Students who have maintained their F-1 immigration status through the fall semester will continue to be in status after Nov. 24. Even though finals will be conducted online, the method of instruction for each course will not change. As a result, students may remain in the United States.

5. What happens if the University shuts down mid-semester? Will international students have to depart the U.S.?

No. Per SEVP's COVID-19 Guidance, international students are temporarily exempted from the in-person course requirement.

6. I am a graduate student with an approved full-time exemption/Z status who are registered in one hour of 799/899 dissertation prep and I am outside of the U.S. Will my SEVIS record remain Active for Fall 2020?

Yes, your SEVIS record will remain Active in thie scenario.

7. I have an assistantship for the Fall 2020 semester. Can I hold this assistantship if I am away from campus?

The University Controller's Office is strongly discouraging employment from abroad due to tax liability issues for both new and continuing students. You will need to discuss your options with your hiring department. Please note that ISS has absolutely no say in this issue because U.S. immigration law is not relevant to your employment eligibility while you are outside of the U.S.

New International Students:

If you are a new international student outside the U.S., you have three options:

  1. Enroll as a distance education student for the Fall 2020 semester from your home country. You will not have an active SEVIS record during the Fall 2020 semester. New international students outside the U.S. without active SEVIS records can enroll entirely online for the Fall  2020 Semester, subject to your academic department's approval and course availability.
  2. Defer your admission to the Spring 2021 semester.
  3. Successfully obtain an F-1 visa and enter the U.S. no later than September 14th (the SEVIS registration deadline for degree-seeking students).

If you are a new international student and/or a transfer international student for Fall 2020 and you are able to enter the U.S., please consult the Blackboard course for incoming Fall 2020 students. For more information about quarantine requirements, see ISS's resource page.


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