*Revised 01/13/2022 08:11 PM

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:

FAQs for F-1 International Students for Winter/Spring 2022 Academic Term

1 I am a new F-1 international student with an Initial I-20. What should I do if I foresee visa or travel delays and cannot arrive by the program start date indicated on my Form I-20?

Please ensure that you have communicated with your course faculty and academic advisor(s) regarding your late arrival date.

Please review the late arrival deadlines  and submit a request for a late arrival letter from the Office of Global Services.

Students will then receive an email with a link to complete a Travel Support Letter Request which explains to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S. Port of Entry that your late arrival has been approved by your academic institution.

2 As a new international student with an Initial I-20, what should I do if I foresee not being able to arrive by the late arrival dates extended for Winter/Spring 2022 provided at the Office of Global Services website?

If you are not able to timely arrive on campus for Winter/Spring 2022 academic term, you will need approval from your college Academic Advisor to either participate remotely online or you must request a deferral of your admission from your college/program for the next available academic term.

If either remote participation or deferral of admission are approved by the college Academic Advisor, the student will need to also defer their Initial I-20 start date to the next available term with the Office of Global Services.

Click here to submit your request. Kindly ensure that you receive a new Initial I-20 with an updated program start date for your intended arrival to the U.S.

Important:

  • Please keep in mind that if you begin your studies outside of the U.S., you will earn academic credits, but you will not earn time in F-1 status which is required to earn eligibility for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Please remember to defer your I-20 start date if you will not be arriving by the date listed. If your SEVIS record is not updated, it will be automatically cancelled by the SEVIS system.  You should not attempt to enter the U.S. with a cancelled SEVIS record.

3 I am a continuing F-1 international student with an Active SEVIS record who returned home due to the pandemic. I am not able to return to the U.S. for the Winter/Spring 2022 academic term due to travel or visa restrictions. Can I study online remotely?

You must provide documentation confirming you are not able to return to the U.S. and request approval to study online remotely for the Winter/Spring 2022 academic term by submitting this form.

Important:

F-1 international students with an Active SEVIS record, who have been outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months, and are electing/choosing not to return for the Spring/Winter 2022 academic term, may result in the termination of their SEVIS record due to the length of time outside the U.S. Please also note the following:

  • Students who plan to return to the U.S. will need to apply for a new Initial I-20 with OGS.
  • Time accrued towards F-1 benefits will restart after entry to the U.S on the new Initial I-20.
  • CPT Authorization or OPT Eligibility does not begin until the student begins taking courses from within the U.S. with an Active SEVIS record and completes “one full academic year = two academic semesters or three academic quarters” of on ground enrollment at a U.S. campus.
  • If you have been engaging online from your home country for two academic terms, you will need at least “one full academic year = two academic semesters or three academic quarters” of on ground enrollment at a U.S. campus to earn eligibility for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

4 I am an international student in the U.S. Can I apply to be a remote learner?

Northeastern University is offering in-person courses for the Winter/Spring 2022 academic term. If you are in the U.S., you must have on-ground presence during the academic term and maintain full-time status.  Due to immigration regulations, you cannot be approved to be a remote learner if you are in the U.S.

If you have an ADA requirement or medical condition, please contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to request an accommodation.

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