Updated as of October 20, 2020
Spring 2021 Planning - international students and ICE guidance
Statement from the Office of International Affairs (OIA)
The Department of Homeland Security has not given guidance for international student statuses for the spring semester yet. If the guidance remains the same as it was for fall, then the following would be true:
Continuing international students with active SEVIS I-20 records may take 100% online classes to maintain their valid status. An active SEVIS I-20 record means that the student has already previously entered F-1 status in the United States using the I-20, maintained their legal standing since then, and the status of that I-20 record in the SEVIS system is active.
International students who have not previously entered the United States using their I-20 would not have an active SEVIS record; the I-20 would be in initial (new) status. If an international student holding an initial SEVIS record intends to arrive in the US for Spring semester for the first time using that I-20, they would need an in-person component in their program of study during spring (i.e. a hybrid class).
Again, if the guidance stays the same for spring, the students who intend to arrive in the US for the first time on their I-20 should be registered for a hybrid class prior to arrival.
We are also still waiting for DHS guidance regarding Spring 2021 OPT. If the guidance for spring remains the same as it was for fall, students in their final semester at Pratt may apply for OPT even if their courses are fully online, provided they apply for OPT while within the US.
Ref: "Nonimmigrant students in New or Initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online."
The Office of International Affairs will provide updates to international students and academic leadership as soon as more information is available.
Fall 2020 Update
Updated as of July 27, 2020
Pratt is providing options for international students who are unable to arrive in the United States due to visa or travel restrictions to enroll in fully online classes during the Fall semester. We also are providing hybrid (in-person) course options for students who are able to attend Pratt in-person. Recently there have been many updates to how these online and in-person options relate to international students’ immigration status.
On July 6, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of the Department of Homeland Security announced updated guidance for the Fall semester. On July 14, this guidance was rescinded. On July 15, ICE replaced their guidance with their former Spring guidance. On July 24, ICE posted a broadcast message and new “clarifying questions” on the ICE COVID-19 web page on certain aspects of applying the March 2020 "status quo" guidance in the context of the Fall 2020 term. Thank you for your patience as the information continues changing.
Under normal conditions, international students are required to be full-time enrolled in regular in-person classes to maintain valid immigration status. Usually only one online class (or three credits) can count towards full-time enrollment status. Homeland Security (ICE) provided relief generally speaking during the Spring semester to allow current students to maintain valid F-1 SEVIS status when studying remotely, either in the U.S. or abroad, due to COVID-19. Based on the July 6 guidance being rescinded, it appears ICE will continue to allow for this flexibility for current students.
ICE has reverted their online FAQ document to the Spring term FAQ. This older guidance is the same one we had for Spring operations. The Spring guidance says that students with active status SEVIS records can be considered in status during Pratt’s modified COVID-19 operations. You will be considered in valid status provided you are full-time enrolled. You are waived from normal restrictions on counting online study towards full time enrollment due to our modified instruction. Whether you are inside or outside the US does not matter. Any five month rule should not apply with this guidance version.
View a recording of our July 17 OIA Advising Briefing for Current Students with Active SEVIS Records. This webinar was for current Pratt students with active SEVIS records and discussed immigration questions about F-1 status only.
The new July 24 ICE guidance document indicates that new students with initial I-20s may be permitted to receive a visa and enter the United States for Fall semester if the student will engage in hybrid coursework. Since hybrid coursework has in-person components, if you take a hybrid class in Fall it will potentially allow you to enter the US for Fall. You would also need to have a valid F-1 visa to enter the U.S. and not be traveling from a country currently under COVID-19 U.S. travel ban. Students who will be taking all online coursework with no hybrid classes will not be able to enter the U.S.
If you will start your study in Fall remotely from outside the US with full-time online classes, we will need to change your SEVIS I-20 start date to accommodate in-person arrival for the Spring 2021 term. The Spring semester start date is January 19, 2021. Your SEVIS ID would remain the same, so you can keep any standing visa appointment you may have scheduled at the consulate. Mid-semester entry to the U.S. is not an option for new students with initial I-20s, due to the I-20 start date being fixed at the beginning of the semester. You may arrive up to 30 days before the start date of Spring term if you receive an updated I-20 for Spring arrival.
Transfer Pending Students
If you are currently inside the U.S. as an F-1 transfer pending student, you should be able to remain in the U.S. and begin your full-time study at Pratt. If you are inside the U.S. you will need to report to OIA for an immigration check-in at the beginning of the semester. So long as you report to OIA and are full-time enrolled, you will maintain your status having either online or hybrid courses according to present guidance.
The new July 24 ICE guidance document indicates that new students with initial I-20s may be permitted to receive a visa and enter the United States for Fall semester if the student will engage in hybrid coursework. Since hybrid coursework has in-person components, if you take a hybrid class in Fall it will potentially allow you to enter the US for Fall. You would also need to have a valid F-1 visa to enter the U.S. and not be traveling from a country currently under COVID-19 U.S. travel ban. Students who will be taking all online coursework with no hybrid class will not be able to enter the U.S.
For people taking class full-time outside the US online for Fall, we will need to follow a different procedure than people inside the US. The guidance says we will need to request a manual data fix of your SEVIS record to accommodate in-person arrival for the Spring 2021 term. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be outside the US and need a manual data fix of your record with the subject line “transfer pending student.”
Travel and Quarantine
If you are traveling to campus in-person this Fall, please review Pratt’s quarantine policy. Please be aware that per CDC guidelines, all community members arriving to the U.S. from international locations should self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Our Fall semester begins Monday, August 24.
We recommend all new and current students arrive from any international location by August 9 leaving ample time to self-quarantine for 14 days before classes begin on August 24. Students who are already present in the US in a different state than New York should follow the domestic quarantine policy for return to campus.
The latest possible date to arrive to the U.S. from an international location to self-quarantine is August 24. You must be present in all in-person academic engagements after the drop/add deadline, September 7. Keep in mind that there may be academic implications to absence in hybrid classes if you self-quarantine late. You should communicate with your professors directly about your situation.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) will continue to communicate further instructions to the international student community on this page. We are collecting FAQs for both new and current students; this webpage will be updated with new answers as they emerge. Please email OIA@pratt.edu with any questions or concerns.
Office of International Affairs
Myrtle Hall, 2nd floor
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