Published: May 20, 2021

Revised May 20, 2021

On April 26, 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued a broadcast message that international students in F-1 status should continue to follow the March 2020 SEVP guidance for the Fall 2021 semester if schools have not resumed normal operations due to the pandemic. SEVP has updated their COVID-19 FAQs to reflect these changes for the Fall 2021 semesterSince then, ISSS has sought and received additional guidance from SEVP.  

Traditionally (pre-pandemic), most international students would enter the U.S. on F-1 visas during their first semester of study. During their first semester, they are considered “new students.” After their first semester, F-1 students are considered “continuing students.”  

While interpreting the current COVID-19 related SEVP Guidance, an important distinction must be made to our understanding of a “continuing student” and a “new student.”  

Continuing Students 

A continuing student is someone who was in active F-1 status in the U.S. on 03/09/2020 

  • Continuing students can remain in active F-1 status and take all their courses online from outside of the U.S. or they can be inside of the U.S. to participate in courses (either fully online, hybrid, or in person).  

  • This applies to students who were in the U.S. in F-1 status on 03/09/2020 and then subsequently changed levels and/or transferred to another school (including a transfer from another school to CU Boulder). 

Continuing Students FAQs 

New Students 

A new student is someone who was not in active F-1 status in the U.S. on 03/09/2020.  

This includes:  

  • International students who began their studies at CU Boulder from outside of the U.S. during the Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, or Summer 2021 semesters, but plan to seek entry to the U.S. on F-1 visas for the Fall 2021 semester.  

  • Students who began their studies at CU Boulder inside of the U.S. in F-1 status during the Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, or Fall 2021 semesters. 

  • Students who previously were in the U.S. in F-1 status, who took an Authorized Leave of Absence, and are now returning to the U.S. on a new initial Form I-20 and a new SEVIS number for the Fall 2021 semester 

SEVP Guidance states that new students may enter the U.S. on F-1 visas if they are engaged in a hybrid study program (such as CU Boulder) as long as one of their courses has an in-person component and they remain enrolled in that course for the duration of the semester. This includes enrollment in hybrid courses. If a new student is enrolled in a hybrid course, they must attend the in-person component and be prepared to document that attendance. 

SEVP clarified that “new students” as described above are considered “new students” for the duration of the Fall 2021 semester. This means that “new students” are expected to be enrolled in at least one course with an in-person component for the Fall 2021 semester.

New Students FAQs  

Transfer Students 

  • Transfer students who were inside of the U.S. on 03/09/2020 in F-1 status and have maintained F-1 status are considered “continuing students” and can take all their courses online from outside of the U.S. or they can be inside of the U.S. to participate in courses (either fully online, hybrid, or in person).
    Continuing Students FAQs 

  • Transfer students who were not inside of the U.S. in active F-1 status on 03/09/2020 are considered “new students” and must be enrolled in at least one in-person course during the Fall 2021 semester.
    New Students FAQs 

Full-Time Enrollment 

Full-time enrollment remains a requirement for all students in F-1 status during the Fall 2021 semester unless they are authorized for an academic reduced course load, a medical reduced course load, or have submitted a completed Confirmation of Final Semester form