Update: The guidance issued in the July 6 SEVP Broadcast Message was rescinded on July 14, restoring the March temporary rule (more information). SEVP published new guidance (see SEVP Broadcast Message and FAQs) specifically addressing campuses operating in a hybrid format on July 24 (more information). If you have any questions related to F-1 visa holders, please continue to reach out to IPC at isss@uncg.edu. We will continue to update this page as new information is available.

In summary, the guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by COVID-19. The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9 and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the U.S. or abroad. SEVP will not issue a temporary final rule impacting nonimmigrant students for the fall school term. This means that if you have been in possession of an active, valid F-1 visa since March 9, 2020, may enroll in a full course of online study for the fall 2020 term whether inside the US or from within your home country. 

In accordance with March 2020 guidance, nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online. This means that in order to secure a new F-1 visa and enter the U.S. to begin your studies at UNCG in the fall 2020 term, you must be able to confirm that you are not enrolled in only online courses. If you plan to enter the U.S., we recommend enrolling in a minimum of one face-to-face or hybrid format course to maintain visa compliance. If you are unable to secure your F-1 visa in time for fall 2020 entry, you are allowed to enroll online from within your home country. For these students, we will issue an updated form I-20 with a program start date of January 2021, based on your intended entry period. For more information, please contact our offices. 

Visit www.ICE.gov/COVID19 for the latest COVID-19-related information and guidance. Please continue to refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of State and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the latest COVID-19 information, specific port-of-entry screening processes, as well as any travel restrictions.

Read the full announcement for more information and to access resources for stakeholders. 

If you have case-specific questions related to your F-1 status that are not addressed by these FAQs, please contact the International Programs Center at isss@uncg.edu. All questions related to graduate assistantships should be directed to the Graduate School at gradinquiry@uncg.edu.
For additional COVID-19 updates, please refer to the UNCG’s COVID-19 updates website.

COVID-19 FAQs

What is the current operational status of UNCG for Fall 2020? 

UNCG plans to operate in a hybrid format meaning that courses will be offered in a variety of instructional delivery methods (in-person, online, or a hybrid of both) to maximize schedule flexibility, practice social distancing, and ensure in-person access as much as possible. For more information on adjustments to the Fall 2020 academic calendar and student course schedules, please see the UNCG Fall 2020 FAQ page.

In general, what are the enrollment requirements for international students (F-1 visa holders) in Fall 2020 based on the most recent SEVP update?

Students who have been issued an “Initial Attendance” Form I-20 must enroll in a full course of study with at least one face-to-face/hybrid course this Fall if they plan to live in the U.S. and have their SEVIS record activated.

Continuing F-1 visa holders (including transferring directly from another U.S. institution or change of education level at UNCG) are allowed to be enrolled 100% online and remain in the U.S. while otherwise maintaining F-1 status. International students will need to enroll in a full course of study that contributes to the timely completion of their degree program, which typically consists of the following:

  1. Undergraduate students are required to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester. 
  2. Graduate students must generally be enrolled for at least 9 credit hours.

Some continuing F-1 students may be eligible to enroll for less than full-time or be considered full-time with fewer hours than stated above. If you believe you qualify for an exception to full time enrollment (outlined here) please contact IPC at isss@uncg.edu for further instructions as you will be required to complete the appropriate request in the ISSS Portal.

Will my SEVIS record be activated this Fall?

As long as your registration meets full time enrollment requirements as listed above, IPC will be able to activate SEVIS records for continuing students, even if you are outside the U.S. for the fall semester. Again, students with an “Initial” I-20 must be physically present in the U.S. and register for at least one face-to-face/hybrid course to be eligible for SEVIS record activation.

What happens if the operational status of UNCG or the UNC System as a whole transitions to fully online during or before the start of the semester?

Our campus plans to maintain a hybrid operational model as long as permitted by the UNC System and NC Governor. Please continue to monitor updates on this page. Should the operational status of UNCG change to fully online at any point in the Fall semester, international students may remain in the U.S. and will not be put into removal proceedings based on their online studies, as long as they are otherwise maintaining status

How do I know which of my courses are being offered online, hybrid, or face-to-face?

You can view any course adjustments in UNCGenie. Please visit this resource for an update on course offerings and a how-to guide for more information.

Do I need a new I-20?

No. The amended SEVP guidance issued on July 24 does not require that continuing students receive an updated I-20 to confirm the operational status of the university; however, if you are entering the U.S. from an international location, please be sure to print this memo in addition to all other required documents (see below).

What do I need to know before attempting to (re)enter the U.S. this fall?

If you are attempting to enter the U.S. to begin or continue a degree-seeking program at UNCG while in F-1 nonimmigrant status, please be sure to print this memo in addition to the other required documentation listed here.

We also recommend that you carefully review the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) web pages with information for travellers. The CDC currently recommends a 14 day quarantine period after arriving from international travel, so please factor this into your arrival time and communicate with your professors and other key parties accordingly.

When booking your flight, be sure that your initial entry to the U.S. is through one of these 15 airports as designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As a new UNCG student, what is required of me to arrive to the U.S. and begin my program this fall?

Students beginning their program at UNCG this term who have been issued an “Initial” I-20 may not take 100% online courses this fall. To request permission for entry into the U.S. at the Port of Entry, please be sure to print the memo issued by IPC confirming UNCG’s hybrid operational status for Fall 2020 and plan to register for at least one face-to-face/hybrid course, if you have not already done so. IPC cannot activate SEVIS records for students with an Initial I-20 who are enrolled in all online courses.

What is the latest I can arrive in the U.S. for the Fall semester to have my SEVIS record activated? 

New students must arrive to campus no later than September 15 to have their SEVIS record activated for Fall 2020. If you are not able to arrive by this date, you will need to defer your admission to a subsequent semester (see instructions below).

I am a newly admitted student and prefer to defer my admission to a future term like Spring or Fall 2021. How do I do that? 

All requests for I-20 deferral and updated admission letters reflecting the new term must be received at IPC no later than 15 days from the program start date indicated on your initial I-20 form. Please contact IPC at isss@uncg.edu for additional instructions as your financial information may be affected and require further documentation. 

Undergraduate students should contact the International Recruitment and Admissions Office for procedures on how to defer your admission as an undergraduate student. Graduate students should complete the online deferral form located in the “Intent to Enroll” section of your Graduate School application and notify your department as soon as possible. 

I am a newly admitted student and currently outside the U.S. Can I start my coursework online from my home country and start making progress on my degree? 

Yes, you can enroll in courses online, provided that you are not living in a fully embargoed country like Iran or Syria; however, IPC will not be able to activate your SEVIS record. We will have to issue a new Form I-20 reflecting a new program start date when you are ready to apply for a visa to come to the U.S. in the future. Any SEVIS (I-901) fee that you have paid to date, will still be valid and your SEVIS ID number will not change as long as you confirm your new arrival term with us by September 1, 2020. We recommend checking with your academic department for specific enrollment requirements surrounding your program.

What will happen to my assistantship offer if I only take classes online this Fall?

IPC does not oversee university assistantship matters. Please consult with your academic department and/or the Graduate School at gradinquiry@uncg.edu for more information. Faculty are also encouraged to reach out to the Graduate School for any questions related to an international student’s assistantship eligibility.

I am a continuing student but currently outside of the U.S. Can I enroll in online courses to maintain my academic progress? How will my SEVIS record be impacted?

Yes, you can enroll in courses online, provided that you are not living in a fully embargoed country like Iran or Syria. As long as you are enrolled in a full course of study, IPC will be able to activate your SEVIS record this fall. We will review registration as we do each semester and you will receive an email if you do not meet full time enrollment guidelines.

Please contact your academic advisor to adjust your study plan as needed and determine which classes you can take online that will contribute to the completion of your program. You also have the option to not take any classes at all in the Fall, but make sure to reach out to the Graduate School or International Recruitment and Admissions Office (undergraduates) if you decide to take a semester off.

I depend on my university assistantship to offset tuition costs and living expenses. If I am not in the U.S. for the Fall semester, will there still be a stipend or tuition assistance that I can receive?

IPC does not oversee university assistantship matters. Please consult with your academic department and/or the Graduate School at gradinquiry@uncg.edu for more information. Faculty are also encouraged to reach out to the Graduate School for any questions related to an international student’s assistantship eligibility.