*Revised 05/20/2021 11:25AM

Did DHS/SEVP (Department of Homeland Security/Student and Exchange Visitor Program) make any changes to their guidance for F-1 students?

  • DHS/SEVP updated their to extend certain flexibilities for remote learning for F-1 students studying at U.S. academic institutions due to the continuing public health concerns created by COVID-19 through the end of academic year 2021-22. You can read the April 26, 2021 broadcast message here.

Who does this recent guidance apply to?

  • The March 2020 guidance applies to F-1 students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, and are otherwise complying with the terms of their F-1 status, whether from inside the U.S.  or abroad.

What is academic year 2021-22?

  • The academic year comprises the following academic terms: Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Summer 2022. See the university’s published academic year calendar here:

SEVIS Requirements for Maintenance of Status:

I am a continuing student with an “Active” SEVIS record. How does the guidance apply to me?

  • As stated in the March 2020 guidance, F-1 students with an active SEVIS record will be permitted to temporarily count remote learning and online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the traditional regulatory limits  for the 2021-22 academic year.  Federal and local public health guidance is subject to change depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Important! Make sure that you live near the campus for which your I-20 was issued so that you can meet on-ground presence requirements for entering/studying in the U.S.

I will be coming to the U.S. on an “Initial” I-20. How does the guidance apply to me?

  • Note: New students arriving in the U.S. with an “Initial” SEVIS record are not permitted to engage in fully online study. New students are allowed to enter the U.S. if they are engaged in a hybrid program with some requirement for in-person learning.
  • Consult with your academic advisor for questions about on-ground presence and registration for courses.
  • Important! Make sure that you live near the campus for which your I-20 was issued so that you can meet on-ground presence requirements for entering/studying in the U.S.

 

 

Northeastern University requirements and course modality options for academic year 2021-22:

How will classes be offered during academic year 2021-22?

  • UNDERGRADUATE F-1 STUDENTS: FRESHMEN, NU. in and NU bound.
    • Our ultimate goal is to see that you are able to fully participate in the fall semester, whether you are on the Boston campus, at one of our partner institutions, or at one of our global campuses—ideally in person, if that is your preference. Please rest assured that Northeastern is also prepared to support you should you decide to study remotely this fall, given visa processing restrictions. The Global ConnEXions program is expressly designed as a first-year student program to offer you this flexibility. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will continue to communicate updates and deadlines for finalizing your fall plans, so please watch your email closely in the coming weeks.
  • NEW MASTER’S, PH.D., PROFESSIONAL DOCTORAL AND CPS BACHELORS COMPLETION F-1 STUDENTS
    • While on-ground learning will be our primary modality and our ultimate goal is to see you here at Northeastern, studying on our campus and face-to-face with our professors, we will continue to support our global learners who are unable to arrive at one of our campuses by offering some of our courses through Hybrid NUflex (with some students learning in a classroom and others joining at the same time remotely), online, and other learning modalities.

 

New students admitted for Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Summer 2022:

Can I enroll in classes for academic year 2021-22?

  • Please consult with your academic advisor and follow course registration directions.

Can I register for online courses when I am in the U.S.?

  • New F-1 students with an initial SEVIS record are required to be engaged in on-ground or hybrid instruction with an in-person component in order to enter the U.S. and maintain their status. 

Travel to the U.S.:

I want to come to campus for the 2021-22 academic year. Will I be able to travel to the U.S.?

  • Your ability to arrive in the U.S. will depend on whether you are able to secure a F-1 student visa and there are no travel restrictions limiting your arrival to the U.S. Please note that your visa eligibility and issuance is at the discretion of the U.S. Department of State.
  • Please continue to monitor visa availability, information on travel restrictions, and CDC updates.
  • If you are able to travel, be certain to register your travel with the Travel Registry so that we can best support you.

If I will be enrolled in Hybrid classes and am planning to arrive in the U.S. for academic year 2021-22 will I receive a new I-20 for my visa appointment?

  • You do not need a new I-20 for your visa appointment. If you plan to arrive in the U.S. and enroll in on-ground/Hybrid instruction classes, please use your current I-20 for your visa appointment. Please note that your visa eligibility and issuance is at the discretion of the U.S. Department of State. Please continue to monitor visa availability and information on travel restrictions.

 

Late Arrival Deadlines:

I want to study on-ground in the U.S. but I will not be able to arrive by the Program Start Date on my I-20 due to visa delays. Can I arrive late?

  • Any arrival after the program start date must be approved by your Admissions Team/Academic Advisor and requires authorization from OGS.  If you are unable to arrive on or before the program start date on your I-20, you will need a Late Arrival Letter. If you are a new student enrolling in your first academic term at Northeastern, please speak with your Admissions Team/Academic Advisor about this letter and they will coordinate with OGS.
  • Note: CPS students with late arrival requests should submit their request here.

If your request to arrive late is supported by the Admissions Team/Academic Advisor, they will coordinate with OGS to send you a Late Arrival Letter. The latest possible deadline by program is listed below. If your Admissions Team/Academic Advisor is unable to support late arrival and/or you cannot arrive to the U.S. by the dates below, you will need to contact OGS and request a new I-20 for the next academic term. Please note the arrival deadline for your specific program below:

SEVP I-20 Start Date Academic Term Start Date Last Day to Add Classes OGS Deadline or Last day to arrive in the US & Report to OGS
Undergraduate 09/08/2021 09/08/2021 09/16/2021 10/03/2021
UG CPS 09/09/2021 09/09/2021 09/22/2021 10/04/2021
Graduate (except CPS) 09/08/2021 09/08/2021 09/21/2021 10/03/2021
CPS Graduate (Fall) 09/20/2021 09/20/2021 09/26/2021 10/15/2021
CPS Graduate (Winter) 01/10/2022 01/10/2021 01/16/2022 02/04/2022
School of Law 09/01/2021 09/01/2021 09/26/2021

To request a visa and travel support letter, please follow these steps:

  1. Submit the travel support letter e-form request.
  2. The processing time can take up to 5 business days, once you are approved, you will receive an email via your university account.

Changes to I-20:

I started my program in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021  from outside the U.S and planning to arrive on campus for Fall 2021; what should I do?

  • An I-20 is required for students who will be arriving in the U.S. to commence their studies in person. If you received an I-20 in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021, it would have auto terminated due to non-entry. We urge you to apply for your Initial I-20 if you have not already done so, and please make an appointment for a visa as soon as possible.

If I am traveling after the Program Start Date on my I-20 do I need to get an updated I-20?

  • OGS will only make any change to an I-20 if a student receives written notification from a U.S. Consulate asking for this change.  If the Consular officer asks you to provide an updated I-20 during your visa interview, they should give you this requirement in writing. Please email [email protected] with your request and be sure to attach the letter or email from the Consulate. OGS requires this for our records prior to amending your Program Start Date.

If my I-20 Program Start Date is amended in response to a Consular requirement, or any change is made to my SEVIS record, will my SEVIS ID change, and/or will I need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again?

  • No. Your SEVIS number does not change and no new fee is required if you need to provide updates to the Consulate in response to your visa application.

I applied for a Fall 2021 I-20 but I’m going to continue studying remotely from outside the U.S.  What should I do?

  • An I-20 is required for students who will be arriving in the U.S. to commence their studies in person. If you will not be travelling to the U.S. for Fall 2021, you should cancel your I-20 request. If an I-20 was already issued, please notify OGS immediately via email [email protected] so we can update your SEVIS record accordingly.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

I am currently on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or I plan to start CPT in academic year 2021-22. Can I participate remotely in my practical training, and do I need to report remote practical training due to COVID-19?

  • Yes, you can participate remotely in practical training and should work with your employer to review available options where student engagement in practical training can be assessed using electronic means. Please report if you will be working remotely when you submit the CPT Authorization Request Form. You will be required to upload a Remote Work Letter, which you will need to request from your co-op advisor. This form is a required procedure for you and OGS to document your F-1 accommodations.
  • Important!  Make sure you are able to explain/document how you are providing services associated with the practical training while not at the location of the employer/organization.

What if I already have a pending or approved CPT Authorization for Summer-Fall 2021 and I will be working remotely? Do I need to submit the Remote Work Letter?

  • Please submit the CPT Update Form to submit the Remote Work Letter once you obtain the letter from your co-op advisor.

Do I need a wet signature on my CPT Authorization I-20?

  • Many Social Security Administration offices are requiring students to have a wet signature on their CPT I-20 when they apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). Students will only be issued a hard copy of their I-20 if they need to apply for a SSN. The CPT Authorization Request e-form will ask if you already have a SSN. If you please follow the instructions in the e-form to indicate if you will pick up your I-20 from our office (by appointment only) or if you would like the I-20 shipped to you.
  • If you have a SSN, your I-20 will be sent electronically.

If I already started my program from my home country and studied remotely, when will I be eligible for CPT?

  • An F-1 student must have completed at least one academic year of full-time enrollment, which is defined as two full-time semesters or three full-time quarters on-ground or in person. When you arrive in the U.S. and OGS completes your SEVIS Registration, your SEVIS record changes from “Initial” To “Active.” Students with Active SEVIS records then begin accruing benefits of the F-1 visa status.
  • For example, if a student started their program from overseas in Spring 2021, they will not have completed the SEVIS Registration requirements and their enrollment in Spring 2021 will not count towards the one academic year of full-time enrollment.
  • More information about CPT eligibility can be found here.

Do students enrolled in global co-op require authorization to work remotely in the U.S.?

  • Yes, students who remain in the U.S. and plan to engage remotely for an international employer are required to apply for CPT Authorization. The CPT Authorization e-form can be found here. Students should not begin engaging remotely within the U.S. for any employer until they have obtained  authorization from OGS.  Be sure to understand and follow maintenance of status requirements.

I am a continuing student with an “Active” SEVIS record. I departed the U.S. due to the pandemic and I want to participate in a global coop. Do I need to apply for CPT?

  • No, if you are outside the U.S., you do not need to apply for CPT.

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

I am currently on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Are there any accommodations if I am not able to work and exceed my 90-day limit on unemployment?

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has recognized that the spread of COVID-19 may impact students engaging in OPT. Changes to workplace requirements may impact international students engaging in practical training. SEVP encourages such students to consult with their employer/practical training organization to seek alternative remote arrangements for engaging in employment/practical training where student engagement can be assessed using electronic means. Please fill out the accommodations for students on practical training e-form. This form is a required procedure for you and the university to document your F1 accommodations.
  • In addition, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.
  • Important!  Make sure you are able to explain/document how you are providing services associated with the practical training while not at the location of the employer/organization.

Will there be an extension or suspension of the 90-day/150-day allowed period of unemployment for OPT and STEM OPT during the COVID-19 emergency?

  • The Department of Homeland Security is evaluating this issue but has not yet determined whether to implement a specific exemption for exceeding the regulatory limits for unemployment of 90 days for OPT and 150 days for STEM OPT.

Can I apply for OPT from overseas?

The Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is evaluating this and may issue additional guidance but currently this is not an option. The I-765 form still requires a mailing address in the U.S. USCIS will mail your EAD to this address, as well as any additional correspondence (such as a Request for Evidence). Please read the following 3 scenarios carefully:

  1. If you have already applied for post-completion OPT, you are permitted to depart the U.S. while your application is pending, but there are some risks associated with this option.
    • Any OPT-related mail will be sent to the mailing address in the U.S. that you listed on the I-765 form. If no one will be available at that address to receive your mail, you will need to choose another mailing address in the U.S. and report it to USCIS following their instructions here: https://www.uscis.gov/addresschange. Mail may include your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card or an RFE (Request for Evidence). RFEs are time-sensitive and if you do not respond in a timely manner your OPT application may be denied.
    • You may be scheduled to attend a biometrics appointment in the U.S. after filing your application for EAD.
    • If your OPT is approved while you are outside of the U.S., you will need to have your OPT EAD in hand before returning to the U.S.
  2. If you are planning to apply for post-completion OPT but have not yet done so, apply while you are still in the U.S. Then refer to #1 above.
  3. If this is your final academic term and you have already departed the U.S. without applying for OPT, you will have to return to the U.S. before your program end date. Given the current travel restrictions, please note this may be difficult, and you might forfeit your OPT benefit.

Social Security Numbers

How can I apply for a SSN?

You should call your local SSA office and make every effort to secure an in-person appointment to apply for a SSN as soon as one is available.

Be advised that it is risky for you to mail in your original documents with your application for a SSN as there is no guarantee that the original documents will be returned to you.

During the COVID-19 emergency, some local SSA offices may allow you to make an appointment by sending proof that you are eligible to apply.

Please ask your SSA officer the following information when requesting an appointment:

  1. What types of documents are acceptable to show as proof to request an appointment? (i.e. digital copies or original copies with wet signatures).
  2. What types of documents are acceptable to show at an in-person appointment? (i.e. digital copies or original copies with wet signatures).

If you have not done so already, you will need to submit the SSN Letter Request to OGS if you require a SSN for on-campus employment or an SGA (not required for CPT):

Once you have submitted this request, you will receive an email with instructions to submit the Step 1 and Step 2 e-forms. Please carefully follow the instructions in this email.

Previous Guidance:

Previous Guidance for Spring 2021