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ENROLLMENT AND MAINTAINING

F-1/J-1 STATUS

 

SEVP/DOS Guidance for the 2021-2022 Academic Year and UC San Diego Operational Plans

(LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 8/11/2021)

  • On April 26, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of State (DOS) released updated guidance on COVID-19 for the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Per the UC San Diego’s Return to Learn and Fall 2021 Operations Update on April 5, 2021, UC San Diego will make a return to primarily in-person instruction for fall 2021 based on current public health guidance. However, the campus is also planning to offer remote coursework for key gateway courses so that students impacted by visa or travel restrictions can still make progress with their academic programs. Any plans that UC San Diego makes for the fall quarter are subject to change pending public health guidance.

What does this mean for CONTINUING F-1 international students currently IN the U.S.?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14
  • Continuing students who are currently in the U.S. in F-1 status and will remain in the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes, subject to course availability*. These students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently in the U.S. in F-1 status and will be outside of the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes, subject to course availability*. These students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently in the U.S. and do not intend to enroll in the fall 2021 quarter should consult with their academic advisor regarding the possibility of a Leave of Absence (LOA). Students must submit a Leave of Absence from the U.S. form to ISPO by the start of the fall 2021 quarter. Students on a leave of absence must leave the U.S. for the duration of the leave period, except for leaves based on documented medical reasons.

 *Fall 2021 courses are all initially being scheduled as in-person for operational and logistical purposes. However, the University will be adding in additional remote sections in July 2021 to accommodate students unable to enter the U.S. Availability of these courses will be announced in July.

What does this mean for CONTINUING F-1 international students who are currently OUTSIDE the U.S.?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. in active F-1 status and will remain outside the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes, subject to course availability*. These students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. in active F-1 status and wish to return to the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes, subject to course availability*. To re-enter the U.S., these students must have a valid F-1 visa, an I-20 endorsed for travel and all other documents listed on the ISPO travel webpage. These students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. with an initial I-20 (the I-20 has a program start date of September 20, 2021 through October 8, 2021) – which includes students admitted for the summer or fall 2020 quarters who began their programs from outside the U.S. – and wish to enter the U.S. for fall 2021 may not take 100% online classes. These students may only enter the U.S. if they are able to obtain an F-1 visa and intend to enroll in at least one hybrid or in-person course for the fall 2021 quarter. Once the student arrives in the U.S. They will be required to submit the ISPO Check-In Form for I-20/DS-2019 Activation to verify arrival to the U.S. After completing Check-in form, these students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. with an initial I-20 (the I-20 has a program start date of September 20, 2021 or later) – which includes students admitted for the summer or fall 2020 quarters who began their programs from outside the U.S. – and will remain outside of the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes in non-F-1 status. Students are advised to submit the New Admit I-20/DS-2019 Amendment Request to adjust the Program Start Date to the expected future, arrival term.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. and are returning from a leave of absence with an initial attendance I-20 for fall 2021 may not take 100% online classes. Please refer to the ISPO Returning from a Leave of Absence for instructions on how to request an initial I-20 from ISPO.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. and have an initial attendance I-20 for purposes of traveling to change their status to F-1 and who wish to return to the U.S for fall 2021 may not take 100% online classes. These students may only enter the U.S. if they are able to obtain an F-1 visa and can confirm enrollment in at least one hybrid or in-person course for the fall 2021 quarter. Once the student arrives in the U.S. They will be required to submit the ISPO Check-In Form for I-20/DS-2019 Activation to verify arrival to the U.S. After completing the Check-in form, these students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who are currently outside the U.S. and have an initial attendance I-20 for a change of degree level – who wish to return to the U.S for fall 2021 may not take 100% online classes. These students may only enter the U.S. if they are able to obtain an F-1 visa and can confirm enrollment in at least one hybrid or in-person course for the fall 2021 quarter. Once the student arrives in the U.S. They will be required to submit the ISPO Check-In Form for I-20/DS-2019 Activation to verify arrival to the U.S. After completing the ISPO Check-In form, these students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Continuing students who have an initial attendance I-20 – including students returning from a Leave of Absence (LOA), traveling to change their status to F-1, or to change their degree level – who will remain outside the U.S. for fall 2021 may continue to take online classes in non-F-1 status. Students are advised to submit the Updated I-20 Request to defer the Program Start Date to the appropriate expected future, arrival term.
  • Continuing students with an active I-20 who will remain outside the U.S. for fall 2021 and will not be enrolled in classes (taking a leave of absence/gap quarter) must file for a Leave of Absence from the U.S. through ISPO. To request a new, initial I-20, submit the Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request for Returning Students.
  • Continuing students with an initial attendance I-20 who will remain outside the U.S. for fall 2021 (taking a leave of absence/gap quarter) and will not be enrolled in classes must file for a Leave of Absence from the U.S. through ISPO. To request a new, initial I-20, submit the Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request for Returning Students.

 *Fall 2021 courses are all initially being scheduled as in-person for operational and logistical purposes. However, the University will be adding in additional remote sections in July 2021 to accommodate students unable to enter the U.S. Availability of these courses will be announced in July.

What does this mean for NEW F-1 international students who are currently IN the U.S.?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14
  • Fall 2021 admitted students who are already in the U.S. and are transferring their SEVIS record to UC San Diego, may enroll in 100% online classes, subject to course availability*, so long as they do not depart the U.S. before their UC San Diego SEVIS record has been activated. To activate their SEVIS record, students will be required to submit the ISPO Check-In Form for I-20/DS-2019 Activation to verify presence in the U.S. After completing the Check-In form, these students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.

  *Fall 2021 courses are all initially being scheduled as in-person for operational and logistical purposes. However, the University will be adding in additional remote sections in July 2021 to accommodate students unable to enter the U.S. Availability of these courses will be announced in July.

What does this mean for NEW F-1 international students who are currently OUTSIDE of the U.S.?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14
  • Fall 2021 admitted students who are currently outside the U.S. and wish to enter the U.S. with an initial I-20 may not take 100% online classes. These students may only enter the U.S. if they are able to obtain an F-1 visa and can confirm enrollment in at least one hybrid or in-person course for the fall 2021 quarter. To activate their SEVIS record, students will be required to submit the ISPO Check-In Form for I-20/DS-2019 Activation to verify presence in the U.S. After completing the Check-In form, these students will maintain an active Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record as long as they enroll in a full course load and otherwise maintain their immigration status.
  • Fall 2021 admitted students who are currently outside the U.S. and will remain outside the U.S. may take online classes in non-F-1 status. Students are advised to submit the New Admit I-20/DS-2019 Amendment Request to adjust the Program Start Date to the expected future arrival term.
    • If the student plans to begin their academic program in a future quarter and will not enroll for the Fall 2021 quarter, contact your College (undergraduate students) or Graduate Division Admissions (graduate students) for guidance.

What does this mean for J-1 NEW or CONTINUING students?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14

The US Department of State Exchange Visitor Program that oversees the J-1 program provided the following temporary guidance due to COVID-19 on April 26, 2021 based on the different situations that J-1 Exchange Visitors might be in.

OUTSIDE THE U.S. WITH HYBRID INSTRUCTION/ENROLLMENT: 

Current, SEVIS-Active J-1 students who are outside the U.S. and enroll and remain enrolled in a minimum of one in-person/hybrid course to meet the 12-unit full-time requirement will be eligible to seek entry into the U.S. for fall 2021. No updates or notations are required to be made to a continuing SEVIS-Active J-1 student’s existing DS-2019 to indicate this eligibility.

 

OUTSIDE THE U.S. WITH 100% REMOTE INSTRUCTION: 

If a continuing (that is, already-SEVIS-Active) J-1 student is outside of the U.S., they will be allowed to take all of their classes remotely. Continuing students with an active record will be able to maintain an active J-1 record as long as they are able to maintain their full course load (12 units) remotely.

Students with an initial DS-2019 (not SEVIS-activated) who are outside the U.S. and enroll in 100% fully remote coursework will not be eligible to seek entry into the U.S. or meet eligibility for validation of their SEVIS record. UC San Diego will be required to issue the student an updated DS-2019 with a new program start date listed reflecting the next available term they are able to seek entry into the U.S. However, if new students cannot arrive in the U.S. for fall 2021, they can still matriculate and enroll fully remote, start with their cohort, and make progress toward their degree.

 

INSIDE THE U.S. WITH HYBRID INSTRUCTION:

If a continuing (that is, already-SEVIS-Active) J-1 student is inside the U.S., and they are able to enroll in at least one in-person/hybrid course as part of their 12-unit full course of study, their SEVIS records will remain active and they will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online.

 

INSIDE THE U.S. WITH 100% REMOTE INSTRUCTION:

If a continuing (that is, already-SEVIS-Active) J-1 student is in the U.S. and is unable to enroll in an at least one in-person/hybrid course as part of their 12-unit full course of study, they may remain in the U.S. while taking all remote coursework.

Enrollment Requirements

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14
  • See the appropriate drawers above for requirements for in-person or remote coursework depending on your physical location and whether you have an ACTIVE or INITIAL I-20/DS-2019.
  • As long as continuing students in F-1 and J-1 status enroll in a full course load and maintain their immigration status, ISPO will continue to keep their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records active even if they are outside of the U.S. for more than five months.

I am trying to enroll in remote coursework but everything is listed as "in-person". What do I do?

Fall 2021 courses are all initially being scheduled as in-person for operational and logistical purposes. However, the University will be adding in additional remote sections in July 2021 to accommodate students unable to enter the U.S. Availability of these courses will be announced in July. More information can be found at the Return to Learn FAQs.

It is important to remain in close contact with your academic advisor(s) to plan your coursework for Fall 2021. For any visa or travel concerns, please stay in touch with ISPO at icontact.ucsd.edu.

I’m a continuing F-1 student with Active F-1 status outside the U.S. and I will be enrolled in the Fall 2021 term through remote coursework. I heard that I’m not supposed to be outside the U.S. for more than 5 months.

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14

While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, continuing students are deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study.  For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision will not apply for students who remain in Active F-1 status.

Can I remain in the U.S. if my visa is expired? How can I renew it?

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14

Students who are in the U.S. and have an expired F-1 or J-1 visa are permitted to remain in the U.S. if they are maintaining their Form I-20 or DS-2019. Remember that your visa is like a key - you only need it to be valid upon entry into the U.S. However, if it expires while you are inside the U.S., you are eligible to remain in the U.S. and hold lawful F-1 or J-1 status if you are maintaining your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.  

VISA RENEWALS: You cannot renew or apply for a visa INSIDE THE U.S. Visas are only issued at U.S. Embassies or Consulates outside the U.S. Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country to learn more. 

What is the difference between an in-person, hybrid, online, or fully remote course? 

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2020-12-22

In-person courses will be delivered on campus with students and instructors physically present in the classroom. However, all course materials must also be provided asynchronously for students to access anytime online. For example, lectures are provided in real time in the classroom, recorded and posted on Canvas along with all assignments and other course materials. 

Hybrid is a combination of in-person sessions and remote sessions. Some course components are delivered on campus while other course components are delivered remotely. For example, a lecture component of a course could be taught in-person, but the discussion component could be taught remotely. All course materials, including components offered in-person, will be provided remotely for students to access anytime. 

Remote means the class meets online. Instruction and all course materials are provided remotely and asynchronously. Courses will use software such as Canvas and Zoom to deliver content. 

For additional information on how to determine if your course is in-person, hybrid or remote, see the Registrar’s Office Schedule of Classes FAQ.  

Guidance for students that are citizens of or currently located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine

LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: 2021-05-14

Guidance for students that are citizens of or currently located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine

Currently, there are license requirements for certain types of online study, remote work, and remote research for students from and located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Ukraine.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing U.S. government policies with regards to visa approvals and travel restrictions, there may be new and continuing students who are unable to enter the U.S. and who may need to take online classes and work remotely for UC San Diego in other countries. The U.S. government regulates transactions and services with specific countries through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). There are license requirements for certain types of online study or remote work for students that are nationals of and/or located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and the Crimea Region of Ukraine.

Guidance on Fully Online Course Load   

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many newly-admitted, as well as continuing international students  have opted to pursue their degree programs remotely from their home countries, either due to personal reasons or to difficulties obtaining visas to enter the United States in time for the start of the academic term. Despite the opportunity provided by the University to take online courses, this mode of instruction requires a license from the U.S. government for students located in OFAC-sanctioned countries. The licenses must be filed and obtained in advance of potentially starting any online courses. It can take several months and possibly longer to obtain the approved licenses from OFAC.  

   

What are my options?   

  • Graduate Students: If you have an expired visa, are not in the United States, and are unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States for the start of the academic term, you must notify your Graduate Coordinator and Faculty Advisor in your academic department so they can work with the Export Control Office to examine export license requirements. There may be additional considerations and/or restrictions if you are working or conducting research overseas so please consult with your academic department for further guidance. 
  • Undergraduate Students: If you have an expired visa, are not in the United States, and are unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States for the start of the academic term, please contact your College Advisor and/or Department Advisor immediately via the Virtual Advising Center for support and guidance regarding the enrollment process. 
  • If you are already in the United States in a valid non-immigrant or immigrant status and plan on enrolling in courses, the above restrictions do not apply to you so you can continue with your enrollment plans. 

UC San Diego is committed to supporting you with the options above so that you can progress with your studies. If you have any questions regarding this guidance, please contact the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) at iStudents@ucsd.edu or Export Control Office at export@ucsd.edu