Jul 08, 2020 The Office of the Graduate School and International Services values and supports the health, safety and wellbeing of our Faculty, Staff and International Students. We have received many questions about the guidance provided on July 6 from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding F-1 visa international student enrollment for Fall 2020. We understand that there have been many questions and concerns about how to navigate this guidance for the Fall Semester. WHAT WE KNOW All F-1 international students must have at least one on-campus class (3 credit hours) to maintain their immigration status. This could be any course not coded O (online). Traditionally, an F-1 international student cannot have more than 1 course (3 credit hours) online going toward their full time enrollment status. For Fall 2020, students enrolled in a traditional or hybrid course are able to waive the requirement that no more than one, 3 credit hour course be online. However, the student should not take more than 3 hours online unless no traditional or hybrid courses are available. The course offerings that will be considered “on-campus” for F-1 and J-1 immigration requirements are Traditional and Hybrid. For example, special topics, seminar, thesis and dissertation hours are considered Traditional or Hybrid hours as long as they are not designated as online instruction. If an international student has an underlying physical/medical condition certified by physician that prevents them from enrolling in any face-to-face courses, they may request reduced enrollment approval from the Office of International Services https://www.uah.edu/images/administrative/oie/isss/Forms/request_for_authorization_of_reduced_course_load_at_uah.pdf According to the SEVP memorandum, F-1 students who are enrolled in 100% online or remote courses will be required to leave the United States prior to the Fall 2020 semester. According to the SEVP memorandum, if UAH transitions back to 100% online/remote learning in the middle of the Fall 2020 semester under extraneous circumstances (e.g., a severe breakout of COVID-19 cases on campus), F-1 international students will be required to depart the United States or transfer to a school with in-person learning. We are awaiting guidance from our State Department Field Representative as to the implications of this guidance. F-1 and J-1 students who are unable to enter the United States for Fall 2020 (i.e. travel restrictions) must work with the Office of International Services (OIS) to have a new immigration record generated before returning to campus for the Spring 2021 semester. They may still take courses online while abroad so they do not get behind in their programs. Students outside the U.S. do not have an immigration status, therefore, no regulations on course credits and hours are in place. However, each country may have rules that govern online education. Each case will require evaluation of local laws and regulations. WHAT WE DON’T KNOW Will these rules be challenged in court to have an injunction issued? How do these requirements impact practical training (Curricular Practical Training -for degree program internship/practicum/clinicals and Optional Practical Training - after graduation employment)? We have heard an updated FAQ from the Department of Homeland Security is forthcoming but we do not know when or what points this FAQ document will clarify or how it could alter the guidance we need to give our students. We have requested a clarification from our State Department Field Representative about the published UAH Fall schedule, which has classes and finals being delivered online after Thanksgiving. We want to ensure that this schedule does not create a change in our “operational stance” as defined by the guidance. Once we have an answer we will provide further guidance. OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: In a situation where international students have no on-campus courses available, departments and colleges are encouraged to add on-campus sections (e.g., hybrid sections, special topic courses) to accommodate and support the international students. All departments should have dissertation and thesis course sections that are designated for international students who are on campus. As noted above, these course sections would be considered traditional or hybrid courses. All international students are advised to communicate with their academic advisors and check their course selections for Fall to make sure they have at least one on-campus class to be in compliance. Students should take a screenshot of their Fall 2020 registration to keep for their records as evidence of their immigration compliance.