U.S. government regulations require international students on F or J visas to enroll in a “full course of study", and also limit the number of online credits that can be counted towards a full course of study. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security issued COVID-19 guidance that allowed international students to exceed these online study limits. Fully online study was permitted for students who were present in the U.S. on March 9. 2020. Students who arrived later were required to have at least one in-person class in addition to any online classes.
On May 11, 2023, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program SEVP) announced that the flexibility allowed by the special COVID-19 guidance will end at the completion of the spring/summer term for continuing students. Beginning with Fall Term 2023, both new and continuing international students will only be able to count three online credits towards their full course of study requirement.
For immigration purposes, a “full course of study” is 12 credits for undergraduate students, 8 credits for graduate students or 6 credits for GSIs, GSRAs, or GSSAs. Students will be able to determine whether a class they are considering is in-person, hybrid or online (distance) by checking the “instruction mode” for the class in M-Pathways. In-person and hybrid courses must have in-person sessions or components. Individual exceptions/accommodations for international students to be fully online in classes identified as in-person or hybrid classes should not be made without prior consultation with the International Center.
International students and their academic advisors should ensure that Fall 2023 class schedules comply with the normal U.S. government requirements. Please contact the International Center should any questions arise regarding this guidance.