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University Updates International Students on New Immigration Guidance

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A message to international students concerning updated immigration guidance has been issued by Jun Liu, Vice President/ Vice Provost for Global Affairs, and Lindsi Walker, Senior Assistant Dean, Office of Global Affairs. The message reads as follows:

Coning Back Safe and StrongWe are delighted to share updated immigration guidance for our F-1 international students.  The strong voice and advocacy of so many states and universities, including Stony Brook, made a difference in the reversal of the SEVP July 2020 policy guidance.

On Tuesday, July 14, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to rescind the July 2020 SEVP policy guidance and return to the previous temporary COVID-19 guidance.   And yesterday, July 15, Visa and Immigration Services (VIS) received updated documentation from the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) with additional details on the guidance for Fall 2020.

Based on these changes, we would like to share with you what this guidance means for F-1 students, both undergraduate and graduate, with regard to the Fall 2020 semester.

Continuing / Active F-1 Students Inside the U.S. for the Start of the Fall Semester:
(including those currently outside the U.S. but seeking to return for fall)

  • Your F-1 status will remain active and you do not need to depart the U.S.
  • To maintain your F-1 status, you must be enrolled full-time.  This can include all online courses, or a combination of online, in-person and hybrid courses.  There is no in-person course requirement for F-1 students.
  • SBU is no longer required to provide an updated I-20 to students in the U.S.  If you already received an updated I-20 with a remark, VIS will be in touch in the days to come if an updated I-20 will be issued.
  • Current IEC students inside the U.S. will be allowed to remain in the U.S. in active F-1 status and participate in IEC online for fall 2020.

Continuing / Active F-1 Students Outside the U.S. During the Fall Semester:

  • Your SEVIS record will remain Active while abroad, as long as you maintain full-time enrollment with SBU.
  • At this time, we believe that the five-month temporary absence provision (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4)) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.
  • VIS may be required to issue an updated Form I-20 for all active F-1 students who remain abroad.  More information will be shared by VIS once confirmed.

New Students in SEVIS Initial & Transfer Pending Status:

  • It is unclear at this time what enrollment requirements may apply for new students who are in INITIAL status in SEVIS and seek to enter the U.S. for the fall 2020 semester.   We anticipate in-person or hybrid enrollment will be required; however it’s uncertain if students will need to be in at least 9 credits of in-person / hybrid courses.
  • New students who are in INITIAL status in SEVIS and wish to enroll fully online for the fall 2020 semester will NOT be allowed to enter the U.S. in F-1 status for the fall semester.   You may enroll in online courses from abroad for fall and request a deferral of your SEVIS record to Spring or Fall 2021.
  • New students INSIDE the U.S. who are transferring their SEVIS record to SBU (SEVIS Transfer Pending) will be allowed to remain in the U.S., be registered in SEVIS to be in active F-1 status, and enroll full-time (in any format of classes).
  • If you wish to defer your fall 2020 admission, please contact International Undergraduate Admissions or your respective Graduate Academic Department.
  • New IEC students are not eligible to enter the U.S. in F-1 status for fall 2020.

F-1 Students Participating in Approved Study Abroad or Research Abroad During the Fall Semester:

  • Your F-1 status will remain active for Fall semester.
  • Graduate students must submit the “Graduate Research Abroad” e-form in accessVIS.
  • You will be registered full-time at SBU and authorized through SEVIS for research/study abroad.
  • You will receive an updated I-20 notating authorized Research/Study Abroad.

The Fall 2020 Plan Reporting e-form is no longer required to be submitted. It’s important to note that Fall 2020 SEVP immigration policies may continue to evolve and change; however VIS will continue to provide updates and information as it becomes available.

We understand the challenges these policy changes have created, but are very glad for the recent rescinded policy.  We encourage you to continue to review the Visa and Immigration Services Covid-19 FAQ page for updated information.

We once again assure you that we are here to support you.

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