To Academic Deans, Academic Advisors, and Program Directors:
The International Center is issuing the following clarification regarding Fall 2021 course modality and enrollment requirements for international students attending Tufts on F-1 student visas. This guidance is based on recent decisions by the Department of Homeland Security to extend through the end of the 2021-2022 academic year certain regulatory flexibilities that were approved in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Following these decisions, the International Center will advise F-1 students who will be physically present in the US during the Fall 2021 semester that (1) they are required to enroll on a full-time basis and (2) their course schedule must include a minimum of one in-person or hybrid course. Other courses may be online or remote. Given that many schools and programs are planning for a fully or mostly in-person Fall 2021 campus experience, international students in most cases should be able to readily meet this minimum requirement of at least one in-person or hybrid course.
This guidance will also apply to the Spring 2022 semester, unless the Department of Homeland Security determines before that time that COVID-19 conditions have improved sufficiently to allow for normal operating conditions and regulatory requirements to resume.
Note that the above guidance applies to F-1 students who are physically present in the US. For those students who are outside the US for the Fall 2021 semester, different rules may apply depending on the individual student's US academic and immigration history. For the most part, students with no prior physical presence in the US on an F-1 student visa may choose to take classes remotely or defer enrollment depending on their school's policies and curricular offerings. However, students who have already established F-1 student status but who will not be returning to the US for Fall 2021 should contact the International Center for advising regarding their specific situations. Students participating in Tufts study abroad programs, Tufts @ BNU students, and graduate students engaged in overseas research or fieldwork are considered to be in compliance as long as they are fully enrolled in the appropriate credits.
As we head into the latter part of the summer, international students are eagerly anticipating coming or returning to Tufts's campuses for in-person learning and extracurricular experiences. While COVID-19 travel restrictions have started to ease for F-1 student visa holders, many students are still experiencing extended wait times and queues for visa appointments. Consequently, as we near the start of the Fall 2021 term, schools may be contacted by students with questions about delayed or late arrival, or possible deferrals of arrival to the Spring 2022 term. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the International Center by writing to Andrew Shiotani, Director of the International Center, at Andrew.Shiotani@tufts.edu or your school's International Center liaison.
Andrew K. Shiotani
Director, Tufts International Center