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News and Announcements

Spring 2021 Guidance for Continuing F-1 Students

Posted in: Office of International Engagement

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The Department of Homeland Security (SEVP) announced that they will extend the guidance issued on March 9, 2020 into the Spring 2021 semester. Montclair State University will operate on a hybrid model for the Spring 2021 semester which will include in-person, hybrid, and online instruction. Based on the March 2020 guidance we have prepared the following FAQs.

Continuing International Students

  • How will Montclair State’s plan for Spring 2021 instruction affect my visa status as a continuing student?

Montclair State University will have a hybrid model of studies for the Spring 2021 semester. This means that continuing students who entered the U.S  with F-1 status before March 9, 2020 and have remained continuously enrolled in full-time studies after March 9, 2020 can enroll in coursework either all in-person, hybrid, or all online.

  • I am a current student who entered the U.S. to begin my studies for the Fall 2020 semester. Can I register for all online classes for the Spring 2021 semester?

No, students who entered the U.S. after March 9, 2020 and began their studies in Fall 2020 semester are required to take at least one in-person or hybrid class to maintain their F-1 status.

  • I am a continuing student and currently outside the U.S. I will not be able to return to the U.S. for the Spring 2021 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.

  • I cannot register for a full course load for the Spring 2021 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 the Office of International Engagement prior to the start of the spring semester.

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

  • If I am completing my course work in the spring  semester and will graduate in May or August, do I need to be enrolled for full course load?

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

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

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

No, Ph.D. students 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.

  • Can Ph.D. students maintain their F-1 status if they are outside of the US in the Spring 2021 semester and taking only dissertation credit?

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

  • If I am outside of the U.S. during Spring 2021 semester  and will graduate in Spring or Summer 2021, will I be eligible to apply for OPT after graduation?

To be eligible for OPT, students must be in the U.S. and registered for classes. DHS does not allow students to apply for OPT from outside the U.S.

If you have any additional questions, please email us at international@montclair.edu