Skip to main content

Fall 2021 and F-1 International Student Status

Please read over the following update regarding in-person class requirements for the Fall 2021 semester.


  • If you are a new student and deferring your start date on your I-20 then you will receive a new Form I-20 with the new start date, but it may not come until later depending on how busy we are. If you are a continuing student in Provo for Winter then you will not need a new I-20.

    If you are a Canadian citizen travelling to the US you may need a special letter from our office to show at the Port of Entry; we are aware of this and will be sending all Canadian students that letter soon so watch your emails.

  • We are aware that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending quarantine for any of the restricted areas listed by the CDC; however, we have not heard of any mandate from either the government or BYU regarding quarantine upon entering the US. We strongly encourage you to be safe and protect yourself and others, however, in any way that is possible.

  • Please read the information in the following link for updates regarding in-person classes and the Fall 2021 semester: Fall 2021 and F-1 Status

  • Your safety is extremely important. We recommend that you still take one in-person course but that you reach out to your teacher and discuss ways to keep you safe and protected.

  • The Counseling and Psychological Services office (CAPS) is very aware of our international students at this time and has reached out to our office asking to help. We strongly encourage anyone who feels the need to reach out to CAPS.

  • You have always had the allowance to take only thesis or dissertation credits following your completion of coursework. Follow whatever your chair/department instructs in how to take these credits as normal, including completely online if recommended by your Chair/Department.

  • NO – the Department of State who oversees the J-1 program has given schools the flexibility for J-1 students to enroll in whatever mode of classes that makes them feel safe. You do have to maintain full-time enrollment as normal, however.

  • Yes. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has made allowance for this to happen. Here is their official response:

    “SEVP is committed to remaining flexible in allowing schools to make temporary procedural adaptations so nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal forward progress in their program of study. They can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as the scope and length of this situation becomes more clear.”

    Further, we were told that:

    “The student can remain in active status during a school closure whether they depart the country or while they engage in online courses.

    Please remember that this is a COVID-19 policy only and will not be continued after this pandemic has passed.

  • We are aware of the message that was sent out by the Academic Vice President stating that “All new BYU internships, domestic and international, are suspended until further notice. On-campus internships and other experiences that can be managed through digital communication are excepted from this suspension.” As we have received numerous inquiries about what this means for international students we thought clarification would help.

    As a BYU student, it is expected that you will follow this guidance and only participate in on-campus internships or other experiences that allow you to work remotely and safely. As an international student on an F-1 visa, you may work for an off-campus employer as part of an approved Curricular Practical Training that is (a) directly related to your field of study AND (b) tied to your curriculum (8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)). Please remember that if you are ever questioned by the government about your work experience you will be required to prove that your employment meets these regulatory requirements. Please also note that, even if your internship opportunity meets both BYU’s and the government’s requirements, you must still get approval for all employment in the United States. To be approved for an internship with an off-campus employer through the Curricular Practical Training program, you must apply at and get your new I-20 with the approved work noted on it BEFORE you begin employment for spring or summer. Failure to do so is a violation of your visa status.

    In summary, any international student on an F-1 or J-1 visa who whishes to do an internship or Academic Training for an employe other than an on-campus internship for BYU must demonstrate that the internship meets the following requirements:

    • The work experience can be managed through digital communication,
    • The work is directly related to your field of study,
    • The work is tied to your curriculum, AND
    • The work has been approved by International Student Services as Curricular Practical Training.

    The instructions issued regarding the suspension of internships during the COVID-19 crisis have elicited a number of questions about possible exceptions. These questions are understandable given the variety of internships pursued by our students, our commitment to experiential learning, and the impossibility of issuing instructions from the central administration that anticipate every circumstance and variation. We ask that you consider the following:
    Priority #1: Keep students safe and healthy.

    Priority #2: Exercise good citizenship by following instructions and requests issued by civil authorities.

    Principle #1: Everyone is making sacrifices, and many are suffering severe and possibly lasting financial hardship. Our reticence to approve exceptions to instructions on internships should be understood in that context.

    This communication references for-credit internships either required by a major or tied to an internship class for credit. This new policy—which stands until further notice— states that any internship that is tied to a getting credit or requires Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Academic Training (AT) where the school has to authorize employment are postponed unless they can be done remotely and digitally.

    • Travel signatures: You are encouraged to obtain a travel signature any time you depart the U.S. We are working to figure out how to best serve students remotely, but will provide for ways for you to receive these signatures within reason. If you are unable to get a signature before you travel, don’t panic, we are working with SEVP to figure out what this means for flexibility. Stay tuned for more information as we get it.
    • Studying remotely from outside of the U.S.: SEVP has stated:

    “The student can remain in active status during a school closure whether they depart the country or while they engage in online courses.

    • We encourage you to address this directly with Student Housing. We are not able to intervene in housing situations.
    • We have been told that Dining Services areas will still be open in some locations on campus. We encourage students to work with their ecclesiastical leaders for any imminent physical or financial needs. As our Church and state leaders have said, we encourage people to stay calm and reach out to appropriates resources as necessary.
  • Yes! The office is open during all normal office hours.

    If you do not feel comfortable coming into the office, you are more than welcome to call, email, or set up a zoom appointment to ask questions.

    For physical documents, students may come pick these up in-person or a mailing request can be filled out through an e-form.

  • We encourage students to work with their ecclesiastical leaders for any imminent physical or financial needs. As our Church and state leaders have said, we encourage people to stay calm and reach out to appropriates resources as necessary.

  • We do not know how long this pandemic challenge will last. We are moving forward with all newly admitted students who are able to come physically to the United States in time for the start of their schooling listed on their Form I-20. If you are unable to come we encourage you to contact Patricia C Ware in the Admissions Office using ymessage.

  • Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS.

  • SEVP has identified the following methods to sign and send the Form I-20:

    • Email a scanned version of the physically signed Form I-20;
    • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 using electronic signature software; or
    • Email a digitally signed Form I-20 that contains a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature.

    Only approved principal designated school officials (PDSOs) and DSOs may physically sign or input their own digital signature to the Form I-20. Individuals who are not approved on the school’s Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” may not input a DSO’s signature—either digital or physical—to the Form I-20. Improper issuance of the Form I-20 in this manner may constitute grounds for withdrawal of SEVP certification. By signing the Form I-20 or inputting their digital signature, PDSOs and DSOs attest that they are the approved individual issuing the Form I-20.

  • We are not sure at this point, but our research indicates that the term “nonresident” in the bill is being used in terms of tax status and not visa status. In other words, it may be that if you filed taxes as a resident for tax purposes (meaning you have been in the country on F or J status for more than 5 years PRIOR to 2019) then you qualify for the stimulus, but if you filed as a nonresident for tax purposes using the Form 1040NR then you do not. Here is an article that helps address it and if we hear more we will update this and send it out.

  • We realize this has been and may continue to be a challenge. We encourage you to contact your embassy for your country as they may be able to help. If you are trying and cannot access a flight, we recommend that you keep a record of your attempts and anything showing you weren’t able to return home such as screenshots of searches for flights, etc.

  • We assign advisors based on your last name and encourage you to work with your assigned advisor. If you don’t hear back immediately please give us time and don’t reach out to other advisors with duplicate questions as this is an incredibly busy period for us. You are more likely to get a response through email than a voice message at this time. Your assigned advisor is as follows:

    Surname A-D: Rob Llewellyn
    Surname E-K: Cristi Maetani
    Surname L-O: Vanessa Ocana
    Surname P-T: Miles Ogden
    Surname U-Z: Sam Brown

Hidden image