Enrollment Requirements for International Students

ISSS recognizes that international students in F-1 visa status and their academic advisors are planning their Spring 2022 course schedules, will soon be registering for courses, and need to know how the immigration regulations will apply. The University of Colorado Boulder intends to resume normal operations in the Spring 2022 semester. Therefore, the traditional rules regarding full-time enrollment requirements will apply.

All new and continuing international students in F-1 status attending the University of Colorado Boulder must enroll in a full course of study as defined by the immigration regulations in order to maintain F-1 status. In order to maintain F-1 status all students (new and continuing) must enroll in the required number of in-person credits in order to maintain F-1 status. Students should review the full-time enrollment requirements, including the limitations on distance learning, and plan their Spring 2022 schedules accordingly. 

If you will have difficulty complying with this policy, please contact ISSS to discuss your options.

Spring 2022 FAQs

New Students FAQs    Continuing Students FAQs     All Students (New & Continuing) FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for New Students in F-1 Status 

A new student is someone entering the United States in F-1 status for the first time in their current degree program.  

Enrollment & Maintaining Status

New international students are required to check in with ISSS in order for their SEVIS record to be activated through SEVIS registration by ISSS. The New International Student Orientation Course will be available on Canvas for new international students in F-1 status. Information about New International Student Orientation and Canvas courses will be sent to your email address in December. You will receive emails from both New Student and Family Programs (NSFP) and ISSS about this. The New International Student Orientation will include these two mandatory components: 

Immigration Essentials Session

  • Complete the Immigration Essentials Virtual Quiz that is part of your new student welcome and orientation canvas course. You must earn a 70% or higher on this quiz to "pass” the quiz and complete this requirement successfully. 

Immigration Check-In Form (available in your MyISSS portal) 

  • International students in F-1 status are required by federal regulations to complete a SEVIS immigration check-in in a timely manner. Please only complete this form AFTER you have entered the U.S. in F-1 status but please complete it soon after you have arrived in the U.S. The Immigration Check-In form can only be completed after arriving in the U.S. as you must provide a copy of your U.S. arrival record (I-94) 

After you have completed the two-part check-in process described above, ISSS will email you to confirm you have successfully checked-in and that your F-1 SEVIS record has been registered as active. Please reach out to ISSS by email (isss@colorado.edu) or by coming to advising if you have any questions.

01/03/2022 Update: On December 31, 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Spring 2022 semester will start remotely and that at this time in-person classes are expected to resume on January 24, 2022. Normally, there is an expectation that international students in F-1 status arrive by the start of semester. However, due to the announcement from the Chancellor on 12/31/2021, CU Boulder asks that all students with the flexibility to remain in their permanent-home communities to delay travel to Boulder until CU returns to in-person instruction. All international students are expected to be present in the United States and prepared to attend their in-person classes when the campus resumes in-person instruction on January 24, 2022. There will be no other late arrival approvals and students arriving prior to the return to in-person instruction do not need permission from ISSS to do so. Please see the ISSS Spring 2022 Semester Update for further information about the Spring 2022 remote start announcement.

In order to support academic success and given that nearly all courses will be in person for the Spring 2022 semester, it is expected that international undergraduate students arrive in the U.S. no later than Sunday, January 9, 2022 so that they are ready to attend classes when they start the next day. An exception to this rule will only be considered if 1) the international student has a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa in their passport and 2) there is a compelling reason for their request to arrive late.   

Requests for such exceptions should be discussed with/directed to International Admissions at intladm@colorado.edu and be submitted no later than Sunday, January 2, 2022. When requesting a late arrival, international students must include in their email message a copy of their visa stamp, the requested date of arrival, a detailed summary of the reason(s) why the late arrival is being requested, and what arrangements have been made with the instructors of courses to ensure that they will not fall behind in coursework before arriving in the U.S.

International students residing in on-campus housing should anticipate moving in at the latest January 10, 2021. Any residents arriving after January 10, 2021 must contact universityhousing@colorado.edu to ensure their housing contract is not cancelled.

Even if a late arrival request is approved, all international students must arrive on campus no later than Monday, January 17, 2022. If an international student is unable to arrive on campus by this date, they should request deferral of their admission to the next allowable semester.

Yes. The F-1 regulations place a limit on the number of online credits that will count toward the full-time enrollment requirement. At most, 3 online credits can be counted toward a student’s full-time enrollment calculation. As a new international student in F-1 status, it is imperative that you enroll in the required number of in-person credits and remain enrolled in those credits for the duration of the semester. This includes enrollment in hybrid courses. Hybrid courses with an in-person component will count as in-person credits. However, if you enroll in a hybrid course, you must attend in person and be prepared to document that in-person attendance.

No. Both new and continuing students in F-1 status must enroll in the required number of in-person credits. Hybrid courses with an in-person component count as in-person courses. However, if you enroll in a hybrid course with an in-person component, you must attend in person and be prepared to document that in person attendance. 

Please work with International Admissions to defer the program start date on your Form I-20 if you are unable to enter the U.S. as an international student in F-1 status to attend CU Boulder with a full course load with the requisite number of in-person credits by the start date indicated on the Form I-20. 

Please work with International Admissions to defer your Form I-20 program start date if you are unable to attend CU Boulder for in-person credits for the Spring 2022 semester. Undergraduate students should contact intladm@colorado.edu.

01/03/2022 Update: On December 31, 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Spring 2022 semester will start remotely and that at this time in-person classes are expected to resume on January 24, 2022. Normally, there is an expectation that international students in F-1 status arrive by the start of semester. However, due to the announcement from the Chancellor on 12/31/2021, CU Boulder asks that all students with the flexibility to remain in their permanent-home communities to delay travel to Boulder until CU returns to in-person instruction. All international students are expected to be present in the United States and prepared to attend their in-person classes when the campus resumes in-person instruction on January 24, 2022. There will be no other late arrival approvals and students arriving prior to the return to in-person instruction do not need permission from ISSS to do so. Please see the ISSS Spring 2022 Semester Update for further information about the Spring 2022 remote start announcement.

In order to support academic success and given that all international students in F-1 status must be enrolled in in-person credits for the Spring 2022 term, it is expected that international graduate students including MBA and LLM students arrive in the U.S. no later than Sunday, January 9, 2022 so that they are ready to attend classes when they start the next day. An exception to this rule will only be considered if 1) the international student has a valid F-1 or J-1 student visa in their passport and 2) there is a compelling reason for their request to arrive late.

Requests for such exceptions should be discussed with/directed to International Admissions at intlgrad@colorado.edu and be submitted no later than Sunday, January 2, 2022. When requesting a late arrival, international students must include in their email message a copy of their visa stamp, the requested date of arrival, a detailed summary of the reason(s) why the late arrival is being requested, and what arrangements have been made with the instructors of courses to ensure that they will not fall behind in coursework before arriving in the U.S.

Even if a late arrival request is approved, all international students must arrive on campus no later than Monday, January 24, 2022. If an international student is unable to arrive on campus by this date, they should request deferral of their admission to the next allowable semester.

Yes, it is possible for new international students to start their course of study through fully online enrollment from outside of the U.S. However, they will not be able to gain F-1 status by studying from outside the U.S. International students should work closely with their academic advisor or academic department to determine course availability. The majority of Spring 2022 coursework will take place in person so finding online credits that meet academic expectations may be challenging.

New Student Welcome & Orientation 

Yes, you can participate in welcome/orientation activities in the Fall 2022 semester or in the semester that you physically arrive on CU Boulder’s campus.

Frequently Asked Questions for Continuing Students in F-1 Status 

A continuing student is someone who has spent at least 1 academic semester in F-1 status inside of the United States in their current degree program.

Enrollment & Maintaining Status

No. Enrollment in in-person credits will be required for the Spring 2022 semester. Students in F-1 status will only be allowed to count up to 3 credits of online or remote coursework to their full-time enrollment requirement. Further, students are expected to be physically located in the Boulder area with a local address reported in SEVIS. The in-person/on-campus requirement also applies to students in their final term.

No, in the Spring 2022 semester international students in F-1 status will no longer be able to maintain their F-1 status from outside of the U.S. at the University of Colorado Boulder unless: 
  • The student is participating in a University of Colorado Boulder Education Abroad program and is earning CU Boulder credit at a full-time rate or, 
  • A student is fully enrolled in research credits which require the student’s absence from the U.S. for field research purposes

Traditional full-time enrollment requirements for international students in F-1 status apply. Only 3 credits of online course work will count toward the full-time enrollment requirement.

Yes. International students may take CE classes. However, most CE classes are offered in an online format. When considering taking CE courses, please keep in mind that only 3 credit hours of online coursework will count toward the full-time enrollment requirement for students wishing to maintain their F-1 status. 

Please note the cost for Continuing Education courses. If you have questions about the tuition and fees of continuing education courses, please reach out to cebursar@colorado.edu. If you are a sponsored student, please check if your scholarship allows you to take continuing education courses. 

CE Online Flexible courses offered through CE may count toward a full course of study only if completed within the Continuing Education 6-month deadline (or within 8 months, if granted a *two-month extension by Continuing Education). Please review the information on this webpage about enrolling in a Continuing Education Online Flexible Course.

Yes. International students in F-1 status may take a leave of absence from CU Boulder if they are not returning to the U.S. and choose not to enroll in any CU Boulder online or remote courses. Note: you will not be able to maintain your F-1 status during a leave of absence. Your F-1 status will be terminated for the positive reason of “authorized early withdrawal”. Also, some restrictions apply to graduate students. 
  • If you do not intend to enroll in the Spring 2022 semester, for immigration purposes it is important to request a leave of absence from ISSS prior to the start of the Spring 2022 semester (01/10/2022).   

Please contact ISSS (isss@colorado.edu) or drop-in for ISSS Advising if you have questions or concerns.

When students in F-1 status complete all of their degree requirements, their I-20 program end date is shortened to their last date of required enrollment. The 60-day grace period begins immediately. International students in F-1 status cannot re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status during the grace period. A new visa (e.g., tourist, student for a new program) is required to re-enter the U.S. 
  • Spring 2022 graduates have an I-20 program end date of 05/04/2022. Their grace period is from 05/05/2022 - 07/04/2022.  

Students who have satisfied all requirements for the completion of their program cannot continue to be enrolled for administrative purposes. For example, students who have successfully defended their thesis or dissertation are not required to enroll in subsequent terms, therefore future enrollment would be considered enrollment for administrative purposes only.   

We encourage students to reach out to us with any questions or concerns about their I-20 program end date. 

Immigration Documents & Travel to Campus 

f you are currently outside of the U.S., prior to entering the U.S. international students in F-1 status must ensure that they have an active SEVIS record and a travel signature (on p. 2 of the Form I-20) provided by ISSS that will not be more than 12 months old when they seek entry the U.S. Please review the ISSS Travel Handout. 

Your F-1 visa can expire while you are present inside of the U.S. and maintaining F-1 status, but an active (unexpired) visa is required to seek entry the U.S. (exception: automatic visa revalidation). 
  • If you are outside the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa, you will need a valid visa to seek entry to the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic response has not changed this requirement.  
    • International students in F-1 status with Canadian citizenship are not required to have an F-1 visa.

01/03/2022 Update: On December 31, 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Spring 2022 semester will start remotely and that at this time in-person classes are expected to resume on January 24, 2022. Normally, there is an expectation that international students in F-1 status arrive by the start of semester. However, due to the announcement from the Chancellor on 12/31/2021, CU Boulder asks that all students with the flexibility to remain in their permanent-home communities to delay travel to Boulder until CU returns to in-person instruction. All international students are expected to be present in the United States and prepared to attend their in-person classes when the campus resumes in-person instruction on January 24, 2022. There will be no other late arrival approvals and students arriving prior to the return to in-person instruction do not need permission from ISSS to do so. Please see the ISSS Spring 2022 Semester Update for further information about the Spring 2022 remote start announcement.

There is an expectation that continuing international students in F-1 status arrive by the first day of in-person classes. It is important to always have the required travel documents when requesting admission to the U.S. It is important to remember that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) makes entry determinations at the U.S. port of entry (POE). Each port of entry is different, and students report having different experiences entering the U.S. ISSS can never guarantee that a student will not have any issues at the POE.

Please review your preferred U.S. embassy/consulate's website for information regarding operating status and which services it is currently offering. Please review the Visa Services Operating Status Update and the most updated U.S. Visas News page. 


Frequently Asked Questions for All Students in F-1 Status

Arrival in the U.S. & Travel to CU

The university requests that incoming students, faculty, staff, and visitors follow CDC recommendations. Please refer to the CDC’s current guidance for individuals arriving in the U.S. after recent international travel for the most updated information.

Unfortunately, except in rare circumstances, ISSS cannot assist with your visa issuance. ISSS recommends regularly checking the Department of State website for updates regarding visa processing services and wait times. If an embassy/consulate’s website says that the wait time for a visa appointment is 999 days, this means that the embassy/consulate is not currently making appointments for that type of visa. 

CU Boulder's Vaccine Requirement

No. The university will accept proof that you have received a U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized COVID-19 vaccine or a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use (Emergency Use Listing) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The university’s website has detailed instructions on how to submit proof of vaccination or completing an exemption.

For Spring 2022, all undergraduate and graduate students have until February 11, 2022 to complete the COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Therefore, you should have sufficient time to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when you arrive on campus and before the February 11, 2022 deadline.

Health Insurance

Continuing international students who will studying online from outside of the U.S. for the Spring 2022 semester will not be required to have health insurance but must complete a health insurance waiver application in their secure health portal before February 11, 2022. If you have any questions about this process, please email studentinsurance@colorado.edu. Please remember that in-person enrollment is required in order to maintain F-1 status except in very limited circumstances (education or research abroad).