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F-1 Visa Student Class Enrollment Clarifications for Spring 2021

The following clarifications are posted to help F-1 visa-holding students understand the current, temporary regulations to remain compliant in SEVIS and maintain good, active F-1 status during the COVID-19 emergency situation:   

  • If a student in active SEVIS status ("Continued Attendance" on Form I-20) is studying from outside of the U.S., he/she may have a fully on-line course load. 
  • If a student is a newly arrived student ("Initial Attendance" on Form I-20) and began studying at NKU after March 9, 2020, he/she MUST have at least one in-person or hybrid course on his/her current schedule.  This includes students who have obtained COS (Change of Status) approval by the USCIS officer after March 9, 2020. 
  • If a student is continuing his/her studies at NKU (in "Continued Attendance" or through a "Transfer Pending" or "Change of Education Level" Form I-20) and began studying in active F-1 student status at a U.S. university before March 9, 2020, he/she is permitted to have a fully online course schedule and remain compliant in SEVIS.

Please remember that these adjustments to the normal regulations are temporary and will end after the COVID-19 emergency situation has subsided.     

What types of courses count as in-person or hybrid courses?

Any course that has a room number (or Highland Heights) listed as its location counts as in-person or hybrid.

CPT internships are considered in-person courses.  The standard CPT work authorization is required on the Form I-20 prior to beginning work.

Engineering “practicum” courses through which the students are job-shadowing at an off-campus location are considered in-person.  Please note that this type of course requires CPT work authorization on the Form I-20 prior to engaging in the off-campus visits.

PE courses are considered in-person.

Online synchronous classes are NOT considered in-person or hybrid courses.

Recent Regulatory Changes

Notice to Appear (NTA)

A Notice to Appear (NTA) is a document instructing an individual to appear before an Immigration Court for removal proceedings. Starting October 1, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may issue an NTA on denied applications such as Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), if the applicant no longer is in a period of authorized stay and does not depart the United States. USCIS has indicated it will post updates and information on the Notice to Appear Policy Memorandum page.

Accrual of Unlawful Presence Policy

On August 9, 2018, USCIS implemented a change to the way it counts days of “unlawful presence,” which could subject F, M, and J nonimmigrants to a 3-year or 10-year reentry bar. For more information, see this USCIS News Release or read the Policy Memorandum (PM-602-1060.1). Contact the International Student & Scholar Services immediately if you have violated your F or J status so you can explore your options in a timely manner, and we strongly advise you to discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney.

Request for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) Policy

Old Policy: In 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance instructing adjudicators to issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) when evidence submitted at the time of filing an application or petition to USCIS did not establish eligibility for the benefit sought. The guidance also provided that denials should only be issued where there was no possibility the deficiency could be cured by the submission of additional evidence.

New Policy: On July 13, 2018, USCIS announced a new policy that “restores to the [USCIS] adjudicator full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or NOID, when appropriate.” This guidance becomes effective September 11, 2018. Students are strongly urged to carefully review their applications and petitions to USCIS to ensure they have provided complete applications and included all necessary supporting documents.

Travel Ban 3.0

On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s Proclamation 9645 (“Travel Ban 3.0”), which limits entry to the United States by certain citizens of 7 countries (Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen). The travel restrictions are country-specific. Chad is no longer part of Travel Ban 3.0. If you have questions regarding how Travel Ban 3.0 may affect you or loved ones that wish to visit the United States, please contact International Student & Scholar Services.