This memo sets out anticipated Spring 2021 enrollment and course modality requirements for Tufts international students on F-1 student visas. While the International Center is issuing this announcement ahead of official Department of Homeland Security guidance for Spring 2021, we expect that visa-based enrollment and course requirements will be consistent with those set out for the Fall 2020 semester. In the event that there are modifications to these requirements, the International Center will communicate any relevant changes immediately.
Students Arriving in the US in Spring 2021 (Initial Entry)
F-1 students who will be making their initial entry to the US in Spring 2021 will be required to register full-time and enroll in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid class. Other classes may be remote or virtual. These requirements apply to students making their initial entry to the US on a student visa, either to start a new program of study or to continue a program that they started remotely from their home countries. Consequently, programs that expect to operate in an exclusively remote or virtual mode for Spring 2021 will be ineligible to sponsor F-1 students for entry into the US. Students enrolled in fully on-line programs will need to defer their US arrival to a later term when in-person or hybrid instruction becomes available, or begin/continue their programs remotely from their home countries.
Continuing Students Returning to the US in Spring 2021
Students who already established F-1 student status based on earlier enrollment and physical attendance at Tufts and who will continue to be in the US or who will be returning to campus for Spring 2021 will be considered continuing students. Continuing students must continue to enroll full-time but are not bound by the requirement to take at least one in-person or hybrid class. Such students should take classes that are appropriate to their academic situations and that will help them to make progress toward degree completion.
Students Studying Outside the US for Spring 2021
Students who have not yet established US physical presence on a F-1 student visa may choose to study remotely, from outside the US, in consultation with their academic programs. Academic programs may choose to provide this option depending on curricular and other school-based requirements and expectations. Such students are not bound by any visa requirements to enroll full-time (or at all).
Students who have already established F-1 visa status based on prior attendance and presence in the US, but who wish to remain outside the US for the Spring 2021 semester, can do so. In order to maintain active F-1 student status, however, continued full-time enrollment is required. Otherwise, students may choose to study part-time or take a leave of absence in accordance with school-based enrollment and leave of absence policies. Any student taking a leave of absence should be directed to the International Center for advising vis-a-vis their immigration records.
Students in Other Visa Classifications
While the majority of international students enter and reside in the the US on the basis of an F-1 student visa, other students may come to the US in other visa classifications, and as such are not subject to the above requirements. Academic advisors are not responsible for ascertaining the immigration status of individual students, but can refer them to the International Center for advising on their particular visa situations.
Other Information: Travel Environment
As we look ahead to the winter months, the international travel environment continues to pose significant challenges for US arrival due to ongoing and fluctuating pandemic conditions. While US consular and visa operations have reopened in many countries, they remain limited or unavailable in others (most notably, China). As of this writing, the US continues to maintain COVID-19 entry suspensions for persons seeking to come to the US from China, Iran, Brazil, and the Schengen area (and the United Kingdom and Ireland), with non-essential travel from Canada and Mexico also being prohibited. However, F-1 students traveling to the US from the Schengen area / UK and Ireland are being granted exceptions to these suspensions at the present time, although this may be subject to change depending on the course of the pandemic in this area.
The above information is intended as general guidelines that applies to most student situations. However, please refer any student with questions to the International Center for advising regarding their individual situations. Our international student advisors are available for on-line appointments that can be scheduled at https://icenter.tufts.edu/contact/appointments. If there are any questions about this memo, please do not hesitate to contact me at Andrew.Shiotani@tufts.edu.
Andrew K. Shiotani
Director, Tufts International Center