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News and Announcements

UPDATED Fall 2020 Guidance for Current F-1 Students

Posted in: Office of International Engagement

Dear International Students,

On Wednesday, July 15th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded the July 6th policy that would bar F-1 students residing in the United States from taking online-only courses. DHS announced that the March 2020 guidance is still in place. On July 24th additional guidance was published for the fall 2020 semester. Based on the July 24th guidance, together with the March 2020 guidance, below you will find answers to questions you may have. Note that classes begin August 25, 2020.

Current Students

  1. How will Montclair State’s plan for fall 2020 instruction affect my visa status as a continuing student?

Montclair State University will have a hybrid model of studies for the fall 2020 semester. This means that continuing F-1 students can enroll in classes that are all online, all in-person or a combination of in-person and online classes.

  1. I am a continuing student and currently outside the U.S. I will not be able to return to the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester. How will this affect my visa status?

Continuing F-1 students can enroll in online classes from outside the U.S. They must maintain a full course of study to retain their F-1 status and to remain in Active SEVIS status. Full course of study is a minimum of 12 credits for undergraduate students, 9 credits for graduate students, and 6 credits for Artist Diploma and Performer’s Certificate students.

Current DHS guidance allows continuing Active students to be outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months. Additionally, Active students outside of the U.S, will continue to accrue time towards their CPT or OPT requirements.

  1. I cannot register for a full course load for the Fall semester. What should I do?

If a student cannot register for a full-time course load, they must apply for and be approved for an authorized Reduced Course Load for Academic or Medical Reasons. This must be approved by International Admissions and Student Services prior to the start of the fall semester.

Authorized Reduced Course Load form is available through the International Engagement Portal

  1. If I am completing my course work in the fall semester and will graduate in December, do I need to be enrolled for full course load?

Students who are completing all their course work in the fall semester can be enrolled in less than full course load. They must apply for Reduced Course Load.

Authorized Reduced Course Load form is available through the International Engagement Portal

  1. Are Ph.D. students, during the dissertation phase of their program, required to register for 9 credits?

No, Ph.D. can register for their dissertation credits only. The student should refer to the academic department for more information about funding if the student is abroad.

  1. Can Ph.D. students maintain their F-1 status if they are outside of the U.S. in the fall 2020 semester and taking only dissertation credit?

Yes, students can maintain their F-1 status and keep their SEVIS record active.

  1. If I am outside of the U.S. during fall 2020 and graduate in December 2020, will I be eligible to apply for OPT after graduation?

Current guidance does not address this question. We cannot guarantee that students will be eligible for OPT if they are outside of the U.S. during the fall 2020 semester. As soon as we have more information, we will let students know and post the update on our website.