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UPDATED Fall 2020 Guidance for New 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On Wednesday, July 15th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded the July 6th policy that would bar F-1 students residing in the United States from taking online-only courses. 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.

New Students:

  1. I am a new student for the Fall 2020 semester and outside of the U.S. Can I enroll in online classes and study from outside the U.S.?

New students can enroll from abroad and study online. They do not need a valid I-20 or a valid F-1 visa to study from outside the U.S.

If an I-20 has been issued for the fall semester and new students do not/cannot enter the U.S., the I-20 will be cancelled. They will be sent instructions on obtaining an I-20 for the Spring 2021 semester so that they can apply for a visa when the Consulate opens later in the year.

  1. Some American Embassies have reopened and are taking visa appointments. If I am issued a F-1 visa can I enter the U.S.? And if so, how will the fall 2020 enrollment model affect my visa status?

Some consulates have a phased reopening approach, and students may be able to obtain the F-1 visa.

Since Montclair State will have a hybrid model of studies for the fall 2020 semester new students can apply for the F-1 student visa. If the visa is granted, students can enter the U.S. and enroll in classes at the University. They must make sure their country is not subject to any travel restrictions. 

New F-1 students who choose to enter the U.S. must enroll in at least one in-person or hybrid class. Students cannot be enrolled in all online classes.

New F-1 students will be required to maintain a full course of study to retain their F-1 status and to be 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.

  1. Due to visa delays, I will not be able to arrive in the U.S. in time to begin classes on August 25th. How late can I arrive?

Students must arrive by September 1st. If they cannot arrive by September 1st, they must defer their arrival for the spring 2021 semester. Email International Admissions and Student Services so that we can send you instructions on obtaining an I-20 for the spring 2021 semester. You cannot arrive after September 1st and maintain your F-1 status.

  1. I am a new transfer student (transferring from another U.S. institution) with a ‘Transfer pending I-20’ who is in the U.S. How does the fall 2020 enrollment model affect my visa status?

New transfer students who are already in the U.S. may enroll in classes that are online, all in-person, or a combination of in-person and online.

New F-1 transfer students will be required to maintain a full course of study to retain their F-1 status and to be 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.

  1. I am a new transfer student (transferring from another U.S. institution) with a ‘Transfer pending I-20’ who is not in the U.S., and plans to travel to the U.S. for the fall semester to enroll at Montclair State University. How does the fall 2020 enrollment model affect my visa status?

New F-1 transfer students can travel to the U.S, with a Montclair State Transfer-Pending I-20 to enroll in classes at the University. They must have a valid F-1 visa in their passport to travel. If their visa has expired, they will need to apply for a visa at the American Embassy in their home country if the appointments are available. They must also not be from a country subject to any current travel restrictions. 

New F-1 transfer students will be required to maintain a full course of study to retain their F-1 status and to be 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.

  1. A new transfer student (transferring from another U.S. institution) with a ‘Transfer pending I-20’ who is not in the U.S., and cannot return to the U.S. for the fall semester. How does that affect his/her F-1 status?

We are awaiting guidance from the DHS on how to handle Transfer-Pending records if the student cannot return to the U.S.