Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced on April 26, 2021 continued flexibilities for F-1 students due to COVID-19 that will remain in effect through the 2021-22 Academic Year. At this time, the Exchange Visitor Program has also announced continued flexibilities for J-1 students as well.
Please note that the flexibilities granted for F-1 and J-1 students vary depending on their status as a ‘continuing’ or ‘initial’ student. Please review the appropriate section below to determine the enrollment requirements that apply given your situation:
F-1 and J-1 students who were enrolled in their course of study prior to March 9th, 2020 and have maintained status since then, including SEVIS transfer students and SEVIS change of level students:
Continuing students in the U.S. (F-1 and J-1 students who were enrolled in their course of study prior to March 9th, 2020 and have maintained status since then, including SEVIS transfer students and SEVIS change of level students) may take all online courses for the 2021-22 academic year and still maintain their nonimmigrant status. No in-person course is required to maintain F-1 or J-1 nonimmigrant status.
F/J students are still expected to enroll on a full-time basis unless they qualify and are approved for a Reduced Course Load. However, if you are approved for a Reduced Course Load, you may enroll less than full-time and all of your courses may be online; no in-person course will be required. This is true regardless of the type of RCL you may be approved for (medical, final semester, academic difficulty, etc.).
We do not recommend that you do this. Keep in mind, the purpose of the student visa is to allow you to come to campus, and engage with your campus community. In recent years we have seen very difficult requests for evidence from USCIS in their adjudication of OPT and change of status to H-1B applications asking students to prove they were a bona fide student in cases where the student was not residing near the school in which they were enrolled. As a reminder, students are required to report the address where they are living in the U.S. to OIS and OIS is required to report this information in SEVIS, so this information is recorded in SEVIS. OIS’ official recommendation is to protect your immigration status by complying with the spirit of the law which expects a student to be residing near the location of the school they are attending. Whatever you decide about where you will reside, make sure you have reported the address in MyPack using the SEVIS Local address type within 10 days of changing your residence. If you have specific questions related to this, please contact your OIS advisor.
It may be possible for you to engage in remote CPT from here in the Triangle area. However for reasons explained above, we have seen very difficult requests for evidence from USCIS in their adjudication of OPT and change of status applications to H-1B asking students to prove they were a bona fide student in cases where the student was not residing near the school in which they were enrolled. This is particularly true of students who were engaged in CPT in locations far from their campus location. As a reminder, F-1 students are expected to be students first, and recommend students adhere to the spirit of the regulations expecting a close proximity to campus. If you have specific questions related to this, please contact your OIS advisor.
NC State University is unable to offer remotely-delivered educational services to any international graduate students who are currently or normally resident in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Crimea (a region of Ukraine occupied by Russia) due to export control regulations. All other students may enroll full-time in online courses from outside the U.S. However, below are some factors to take into consideration:
- On-campus employment, including GSSP: For 2021/2022 school year the University will not allow students outside of the U.S. to work on-campus jobs remotely due to international tax considerations. Graduate students holding a GSSP appointment might be able to submit an appeal for an exception – the exception criteria and request process are still being determined and will be announced once OIS has more information.
- Technology. Will you be able to access all the resources you need to participate in remote classes? This includes Moodle, WebAssign, Zoom, and Google Apps such as Docs, Slides, and Hangouts. You will want to consider your ability to respond to communication from instructors in a timely fashion and submit required assignments from your home country.
- Visa Validity and Travel Restrictions: Many U.S. embassies and consulates have modified or limited their visa services. Additionally, there are currently entry restrictions for noncitizens traveling to the U.S. from certain locations. We do not know when these will be lifted or if other locations will be added. Therefore, it is important to consider whether your visa will be expired or whether you may be subject to entry restrictions at the time of your anticipated return prior to making any travel plans as there may be some uncertainty as to when you can return to the U.S.. If you want to discuss your plans with an advisor, please contact your OIS advisor before making your decision.
- Graduating and Optional Practical Training (OPT) Eligibility: OPT is a type of off-campus employment authorization in one’s field of study typically utilized after degree completion. You cannot apply for OPT from abroad. You must be inside the U.S. with a SEVIS record that has been active for at least 1 academic year in order to be eligible to apply for OPT. If you plan to enroll full-time from outside the U.S. in your final semester, your SEVIS record will remain active, but you would need to re-enter the U.S. prior to your graduation date in order to be eligible to apply for OPT. If for any reason you are unable to return to the U.S. prior to graduation, you forfeit your ability to return to the US apply for OPT. You can find more information about the OPT application process on our OPT page.
NC State University is unable to offer remotely-delivered educational services to any international graduate students who are currently or normally resident in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Crimea (a region of Ukraine occupied by Russia) due to export control regulations. All other students may enroll full-time in online courses from outside the U.S. However, below are some immigration and other factors to take into consideration:
- SEVIS Record: If you enroll part-time, your SEVIS record will be closed, unless you are approved through the Reduced Course Load process to enroll less than full-time. Please submit a departure form which will allow OIS to close your record for Authorized Early Withdrawal.
- GSSP for graduate students: GSSP appointments require full-time enrollment per Graduate School policy.
- Health Insurance: If you confirm with Student Health that you are outside the U.S. for the semester, then you do not have to maintain the university-required health insurance. The exception will be processed as an administrative waiver by Student Health rather than as a hard waiver through the Student Blue website.
- Return to the U.S.: If you want to and are able to travel back to the U.S. you will need to obtain a new SEVIS record and I-20. The I-20 program start date would correspond to the start date of the semester in which you are returning for full-time enrollment and you would be able to re-enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to that date, but no earlier.
- Practical Training (CPT or OPT) Eligibility: Enrolling part-time would require us to close your SEVIS record. To be eligible for CPT or OPT, you would have to complete a new academic year in the U.S. on a new I-20 before being eligible for either benefit.
The following criteria must be met in order for you to travel to the US:
- You have an unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport (or have a Canadian passport)
- You have an I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature dated within the past year
- **Please submit the OIS Travel Request in GlobalHome at https://go.ncsu.edu/ois-requests to request an I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature.**
- You are not travelling from or through a country with a COVID-19 related travel restriction, or if you are, you have received (or are eligible for an automatic) National Interest Exception (NIE) to the travel restriction
If you encounter difficulties at the border, call +1.919.515.2961 during regular office hours (Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm EDT). If an emergency occurs outside of these hours, contact NC State’s University Police at 1.919.515.3000 in order to get in touch with an OIS staff member.
Students who obtained F-1 or J-1 status after March 9th, 2020:
Initial students (all students who obtained F-1 or J-1 status after March 9th, 2020) cannot be enrolled entirely in online courses and so must take at least one in-person course. Please check MyPack to determine the mode of instruction for your courses. Hybrid instruction is considered to be ‘in-person.’
It is very unlikely that the university will change its plan to operate primarily in person. However. As long as you have already entered the U.S. with your required in-person course on your schedule, your F-1 or J-1 status is protected and you can remain in the US, even if the university later needs to change to remote learning.
We recommend you print a copy of your course registration or schedule from the MyPack Portal for use at your visa appointment and at the port of entry to the U.S.
NC State University is unable to offer remotely-delivered educational services to any international graduate students who are currently or normally resident in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Crimea (a region of Ukraine occupied by Russia) due to export control regulations.
All other students may enroll full-time or part-time in online courses from outside the U.S. However, during this time you would not have an active SEVIS record and you would not be accruing time towards eligibility for practical training benefits (CPT, OPT). Also, you would not be eligible for a GSSP/assistantship or other remote on-campus employment.