July 27 SEVP Update
Monday, July 27, 2020
Dear UMass International Student Community,
On July 24, 2020, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided additional guidance for F-1 students regarding fall semester study. We are grateful for your patience during these past few weeks as this SEVP guidance and related policies have shifted and have caused us all considerable confusion and anxiety.
Below are the key policy guidance updates for both new and continuing F-1 students:
NEW INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
- If you are a new international student (including students transferring to UMass with existing SEVIS records), and you intend to travel to the U.S. this fall, based on the new July 24 guidance it is now mandatory that you have at least one in-person course on campus. 100% online/remote instruction is not permitted for new F-1 students.
- If you are not currently enrolled for at least one in-person course this fall semester, and you still intend on coming to Amherst this fall, UMass will assist you in arranging one so that you can enter the U.S. and arrive on campus this fall. You will receive additional information on this process from your academic advisor or Graduate Program Director as soon as possible.
- The IPO will provide you with a support letter that confirms UMass is considered a “hybrid” instructional institution this fall semester, meaning that instruction will be provided both online (remote) and in-person, and thus travel to the U.S. with an F-1 visa is permitted. This letter may be requested by a U.S. consular officer at the time of your visa interview, and/or by a U.S. immigration officer upon arrival at a U.S. airport. Please remember to carry this document with your I-20, passport, and visa documents.
- You should continue with the F-1 visa application process and make travel plans to the U.S. if you intend to come to Amherst this fall. Please note: It is not recommended that you come to campus any later than the drop/add deadline of Monday, September 7, 2020.
- If you do not plan to enter the U.S. this fall but intend to begin your studies online, you do not need to secure an F-1 visa to begin remote online studies.
- If you do not intend to enter the U.S. this fall and do not intend to begin your studies online, you will need to defer admission to Spring semester 2021. Undergraduate students must contact: (international[at]admissions.umass[dot]edu); Graduate students must contact your Graduate Program Director to request academic deferral.
CONTINUING & RETURNING STUDENTS
- If you have already begun your studies at UMass prior to March 9, 2020, the spring 2020 SEVP guidance retroactively applies to you. This means that the Spring 2020 guidance allows for any combination of academic study methods (online and/or in-person) and does not require that you enroll for any in-person coursework for this coming fall semester.
- Your existing F-1 visa and I-20 remain unchanged and travel to the U.S. is permitted as usual. Please review any existing travel bans to the U.S. when planning to return to the U.S. Additional updates can be found on the Customs and Border Patrol webpage.
If you need to renew your F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad you will not need to demonstrate enrollment in any in-person coursework.
Additional FAQs can be found on the July 15 and July 24 SEVP guidance documents:
Kenneth J. Reade
Director of International Student & Scholar Services