New Guidance: International Student Enrollment for Fall 2020

On July 6, 2020, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued updated guidance to universities regarding international students’ ability to study in the U.S. during the fall 2020 semester based on the institution’s method of instruction (i.e. online, in-person or hybrid). Despite our serious concerns about this new guidance, and our strong disagreement with the new limitations being imposed by SEVP, we are also committed to helping international students understand and navigate these evolving new requirements.

USC senior administration and the Office of International Services (OIS) are currently analyzing the emerging SEVP guidance and are seeking clarification on these new policies. This new guidance is a shift away from the exceptions put in place during the spring and summer terms, which allowed international students residing in the U.S. and abroad to take a fully online course load in response to the coronavirus pandemic, while still maintaining their immigration status. For the fall 2020 semester, the new guidance does not allow F-1 international students in the U.S to enroll in only online classes. Instead, continuing students in the U.S. must enroll in at least one in-person class as part of their full course of study, within USC’s planned hybrid academic format for the fall semester.

USC will provide additional information about how these changes impact the university’s plan for the fall 2020 semester and its impact on students’ immigration status as soon as possible. Until then, academic advisors are the best resource for issues related to fall 2020 class scheduling, including identification of available in-person classes.

OIS understands the tremendous uncertainty caused by this guidance and is working diligently to understand how to implement the new policies while also serving the interests of international students. OIS and USC continue to advocate for national policies that support and strengthen international education, and oppose those actions that seek to limit U.S. higher education from welcoming the best and brightest students and scholars from around the world.

OIS staff will host live webinars this week and throughout July where we will do our best to address questions from international students about the fall semester. We will share what we do and do not know at this time and are committed to continuing to update you via email and our website as more information becomes available.

Zoom links for upcoming sessions are available on the OIS Events Calendar.