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International Student Services

Spring 2021 FAQs

The University is actively working to continue our risk mitigation efforts so that the Spring 2021 semester will be safe and productive for all of our students. We miss seeing our students! We hope that you will return to campus in-person if you haven't already. Read below to learn more about Spring 2021 requirements for international students. 


1. Will international students be allowed to take more than one online class in Spring 2021?

A Continuation of Fall 2020 COVID-19 Procedural Adaptations For Now

The Fall 2020 COVID-19 accommodations will continue for the Spring 2021 semester. No additional SEVP guidancewill be released fo the Spring 2021 semester.

 This means that new international students will still have a face-to-face, in-person requirement. Continuing international students who were in the U.S. as of March 2020 do not have a face-to-face requirement in order to maintain an active immigration status. 

2. What is the academic calendar for Spring 2021?

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar

The first day of classes is January 11, 2021. The semester ends on May 5, 2021. Commencement is on May 8, 2021. In lieu of a traditional Spring Break, there are four Wellness Holidays scheduled throughout the semester. For more information, see the 2020-2021 academic calendar.


3. What are the rules regarding online classes for international students for the Spring 2021 semester?

Online Course Limits

COVID-19 adaptations allow for more than one fully online class. In a typical semester, only one fully online course counts towards an international student's full-time enrollment. As stated above, this rule is currently not in effect due to COVID-19 procedural adaptations.


4. What does it meant to be enrolled "full-time" as an international student?

Full-Time Enrollment Requirements
  • If you are an undergraduate student, 12 hours is considered full time.
  • If you are a graduate student and do not have a graduate assistantship, 9 hours is considered full time.
  • If you are are a graduate assistant, 6 hours is considered full time.
  • For more information, see this section of our website.


5. Do I need to attend classes in-person for Spring 2021 classes?

Physical Presence in the U.S.

Continuing international students with Active SEVIS Records: While we prefer for you to attend classes if possible, it is not a requirement for Spring 2021.

If you do not wish to physically return for the Spring 2021 semester, you need to complete the Immigration Record Update Form to let us know. Depending on your specific situation, your immigration record may require termination. 

If you wish to enroll in online courses and remain outside the U.S. for the Spring 2021 semester, you need to discuss your options with your academic advisor. You will be able to continue online course enrollment if your academic advisor approves this course of action. At this time,you can remain outside the U.S. for more than 5 months with an active SEVIS record as long as you are enrolled full-time or have a valid exemption from full-time enrollment on file. For more information, see #1 on the SEVP FAQs.

If you decide to not enroll and to take a leave of absence for the Spring 2021 semester, you will need to reapply to the University when you wish to return for a future semester. Your SEVIS record will be terminated if you are not fully enrolled for the Spring 2021 semester.

New international students with Initial SEVIS Records: per the SEVP FAQs, you have a face-to-face, in-person requirement for Spring 2021. You must enroll in at least one course that has a face-to-face requirement.

6. I was on a leave of absence for the Fall 2020 semester. What should I do to reenter the U.S. for Spring 2021?

Reentry After a Break in Physical Presence and/or Enrollment

If you remained outside the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester and you intend to return for Spring 2021, please check in with ISS at to let us know your plans.

If you remained fully enrolled for the Fall 2020 semester, your SEVIS record is likely still active. If you did not enroll full-time in the Fall 2020 semester, your SEVIS record was likely terminated. Contact ISS to confirm your current status.


7. Can I enter the U.S. with an electronic I-20 (F visa holders) or DS-2019 (J visa holders)?

Electronic I-20s

Due to COVID-19, the Student Exchange and Visitor Program allowed international student advisors to provide electronic copies of I-20s to students. We anticipate that electronic I-20s will continue to be valid during the Spring 2021 semester. 

DS-2019s for J-1 students cannot be sent via electronic means and will continue to be issued in printed form.


8. I have an assistantship for the Fall 2020 semester. Can I hold this assistantship if I am outside of the U.S.?

No On-Campus Employment from Abroad

The University Controller's Office does not permit employment from abroad due to tax liability issues for both new and continuing students. 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.  Please contact the Office of the Controller if you have additional questions. 


9. When can I visit the ISS office?

Plan for Reopening the ISS Office Further

The ISS Office is fully open for business, but we are operating in limited face-to-face capacity in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We will be offering  a hybrid approach of in-person and online advising during the Spring 2021 semester.

In the meantime, we recommend that you check out this section of our website to learn more about office procedure changes due to COVID-19. Online advising is available daily


10. How is UofSC addressing health concerns right now?

Health and Safety at the University of South Carolina

Students, faculty, and staff are dedicated to following safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information, see the Safety Guidelines required when present at the University. The COVID-19 Dashboard allows you to track number of cases and other information about COVID-19 related to UofSC. And the COVID-19 landing page has a wealth of information surrounding COVID-19 and the strategies the University is using to stop the spread.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.