Fall 2020 Update for F-1 Visa Students

Dear international students,


The Department of Homeland Security has provided updated information today on the Fall 2020 semester and F-1 student visas. Many of you are already asking about this message. The government hopes to publish this information as a temporary rule. We are providing you this information for your planning, but we do not know if this will be the final outcome for Fall.  We recognize that many of these provisions present a significant hardship to students and will be extremely difficult for many to fulfill. We are working with our Office of Government Relations at this time to advocate for changes to this rule, as will other Universities across the United States.  Please note that these rules do not apply to J-1 visa holders; the U.S. Department of State has oversight over the J-1 visa and has not yet issued its Fall 2020 guidance. 


Here are the important points to consider from the broadcast message, and our interpretation this could apply to your UConn coursework this Fall: 


Continuing/Active Students


  • If you will take your Fall 2020 courses entirely online, these courses must be completed outside the U.S. In very limited cases, your SEVIS record might be able to stay active while abroad, if your academic program has decided to offer its courses entirely online and you have no other choice but to study through distance learning. If your program is offering courses both in-person and online, and you take your courses entirely online, your SEVIS record may not remain active. You will need to request a new I-20 and pay a new SEVIS fee to return to the U.S.  If your visa is unexpired, we expect that you may use the same visa to return with your new I-20. We will communicate more details on this process in the future.  


  • If you take your courses as a mix of in-person and online courses, you may remain in the U.S. on your student visa. You must enroll full time, but this can be a mixture of online and in-person courses.  It is our current interpretation that at least one course must be in-person, and you should try to take only the minimum online courses needed to make normal progress toward completing your degree. This could be subject to change. If it does, we will let you know. 


  • We do not know when students will be required to depart the U.S., if taking their courses entirely online.


  • Course registration for continuing students does not re-open until July 27, and you must wait until this date to change your courses. However, you can currently view which courses will be taught in-person or partially in-person, and which courses will be taught entirely online, in Student Admin. The course codes can be found here. This may help you in your planning. If you plan to remain in the U.S., it is important to communicate to your academic advisor that you need to have at least one in-person course.  


  • All active/current students must report to ISSS where you will be taking courses by completing the Fall 2020 Check In Form (All Active Students). ISSS needs you to complete this form as soon as you know your plans for fall, and no later than August 1. ISSS will issue an updated I-20 form with comments about your study location. This will be issued electronically. 


  • It is our current understanding that active students who study abroad at a UConn partner institution in their home country during Fall semester may keep their SEVIS records active, as they can under normal F-1 visa guidelines. 


  • We are awaiting guidance on how the planned rule changes will impact student visas when the University changes to entirely online courses after Thanksgiving break.   

New Students

  • New students on F-1 visas who will arrive in the U.S. for Fall semester must enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020. 


  • New students who cannot enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020 should plan to remain in their home country to begin their program remotely. 


  • All students who will not be able to arrive for Fall 2020 should submit a SEVIS Defer-Update I-20/DS-2019 Start Date form. This includes students who have deferred their admission term, students who will study online from home, and students who will enroll in a UConn First Year program in China. This also includes transfer-in students who will spend their first UConn semester studying outside the U.S.  


  • To be safe, we advise students who have filed an I-539 to change visa status to F-1 beginning Fall semester to enroll in at least one in-person course for Fall 2020. 


Thank you for your patience as we work to understand the details of the planned rule. ISSS is experiencing a high volume of inquiries at this time.  While we may not be able to provide you with all of the information you need,  we are working with our colleagues and resources to understand these proposed changes and get this information to you as quickly as possible. Once we have a better understanding of the proposed rule, we will host a meeting to answer your questions. Please continue to check our Fall 2020 Information and Resources page for continued updates. 

Thank you all for your attention during this challenging time. 

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