Supporting International Students in Response to Federal Rule Change

July 08, 2020
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Students mingle on map of globe on the floor of Founders Hall

Update: The Trump administration announced Tuesday, July 14, that it is withdrawing the changes in the SEVP and returning to the regulations that allow international students to stay in the US while enrolling in fully online class work. More information: Update on US Visa Guidelines for International Students   

This week the Department of Homeland Security announced updates to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), federal regulations that will affect international students taking classes online this fall. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SEVP had previously authorized a temporary exemption that allowed international students to enroll in their Spring 2020 courses online.

This new guidance, announced Monday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not continue to take a full online course load and remain in the United States for the upcoming Fall semester. In other words, international students can only be a full-time student and maintain their F-1 visa status this fall if they are residing outside the US.

“We were all shocked by this recent news and share in the disappointment and concerns that many of you have expressed with this recent mandate,” SUA Dean of Enrollment Services Andrew Woolsey wrote in an email to the university community today. “We are proud of our students’ spirit and resilience, who in the midst of a global pandemic continue to persevere. Our campus takes deep pride in our international students and values their contributions to our community.” 
The Office of International Student Services has contacted international students regarding this new guidance and is following up with students directly impacted. Soka is discussing various possibilities for supporting international students and addressing the situation, while remaining in compliance and minimizing student disruption.  

Please note: This new guidance does not affect international students who are already outside the US and planning to study remotely from their home country this fall.

Soka understands the great concern that many people in our community have about these new developments. We will continue to closely monitor any updates. This is an evolving situation, subject to change, and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

We have updated our international student Coronavirus FAQ page to reflect this new information.