Please read over the following update regarding in-person class requirements for Fall 2021 semester.
Last year the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced regulatory flexibility for any schools going to an online or hybrid model of instruction as a result of the pandemic. BYU announced today that “fall 2021 will operate like a traditional fall semester due to the downward trend in COVID-19 infections and increased number of vaccinations within the campus community.” As such, the exemption for F-1 students that has allowed for flexibility with online courses and study outside of the United States is no longer in effect starting fall 2021. Below is guidance specifically for fall 2021.
For Newly Admitted Students in Initial Status Outside of the United States:
If you are coming to campus for the first time this fall 2021 (or returning after a terminated SEVIS record), you will follow the normal regulatory and procedural steps. This means you will need to get a valid Form I-20, acquire an F-1 visa if necessary, pay the SEVIS fee, and enter the US to attend in-person courses. You are allowed to take “no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester” of fully online coursework (hybrid or “blended” classes are not considered online) (8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G)).
If you are unable to come to the US due to embassy closures or failure to obtain an F-1 visa, we can defer your Form I-20 start date to a future semester. In order to maintain your BYU continuing student status, you must enroll in at least one online class for fall 2021 (see BYU Leave of Absence Policy). Graduate Students: your academic department may require a full course of on-campus study starting the semester/term that you were admitted. Please work closely with your department if you are experiencing visa delays.
For Continuing Students in Active Status Who are Outside the United States:
We are glad that you have been able to have some flexibility to remain in active F-1 status while studying outside of the US; however, starting fall 2021 you will no longer be allowed to keep your F-1 status active if you are not physically present on the BYU campus for the required in-person full course of study. If you choose to remain outside of the US you may still take online classes, but we will terminate your SEVIS record and you would be required to acquire a new Form I-20 and SEVIS record upon resuming studies in the US.
For Continuing Students in Active Status Who are Inside the United States:
Starting fall 2021 you will no longer be allowed to keep your F-1 status active if you are not enrolled on the BYU campus for the required in-person full course of study. You are allowed to take “no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester” of fully online coursework (hybrid or “blended” classes are not considered online) (8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G)). You are not eligible to maintain lawful F-1 status if you remain in the US but outside of Utah.
We realize this has been a challenging year and there are still trials for many of you. Please know that we are here to help in any way we can and that we are excited to welcome you back to campus this fall. Our office is currently open Monday through Friday, 8:00-5:00 MST for in-person or Zoom visits. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns moving forward.