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Dear International Students in F-1 or J-1 Status:

As we prepare for the upcoming academic year, the International Center is sending this important information regarding limitations on the number of online (virtual) classes that may be counted toward full-time enrollment.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, under US government regulations, international students in F-1 or J-1 status were only allowed to count one online (virtual) class, for a maximum of three credits, toward meeting their full-time enrollment requirement. This restriction was removed temporarily during the pandemic for public health and safety reasons. Accordingly, during the COVID-19 emergency, students were able to maintain full-time study with an exclusively or primarily online course schedule.

Recently, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that the pre-COVID restrictions will return, effective with the start of the Fall 2023 semester. Accordingly, F-1 and J-1 students will be able to count only one online class, for a maximum of three credits, toward their full-time enrollment requirements (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students). However, students may take additional online classes above these minimums. The following example is an illustration:

  • An undergraduate student is registered for 12 credits, the minimum needed for full-time enrollment. Out of these 12 credits, only one class can be a fully virtual or online class. The other nine credits must be in-person or hybrid credits.
  • The student decides to register for an additional three credit class, for a total of 15 credits. This extra class may be an online class, since it is above the minimum of 12 credits needed to be a full-time student.

Students should review their class schedules and determine if they are in compliance with these limitations. Failure to comply with these restrictions could potentially lead to a loss of valid immigration status.

Note that classes that are hybrid (i.e., classes that involve a combination of online and required in-person activities) are considered in-person. Please consult with your school or the specific course instructors to determine how your classes are classified.

Because individual academic situations may be different from case to case, please contact your International Center advisor if you have any questions regarding these regulations.


Tufts International Center