As a continuing international student, can I take courses online all year?
The federal government has only issued guidance for the fall quarter of 2020, but we are currently awaiting guidance for winter and spring 2021. For fall, if you remain enrolled full-time in online courses - either from within the U.S. or from abroad - your SEVIS record will remain active.
If my I-20 is issued for “initial attendance” and if Stanford changes from a “hybrid school” to an “online” school, will I be allowed to enter/re-enter the U.S.?
For now, the immigration service has stated that students who will attend a school using an initial attendance I-20 to attend a "hybrid school" may enter the U.S. If Stanford changes in the future to an online only school, and if immigration guidance has not changed, then you would be prohibited from entering the U.S., but you could still enroll as an online student from abroad.
As an F-1 undergraduate student, do I need to take a leave of absence for immigration purposes if I want to take a flex term?
Unless you have been enrolled for three consecutive quarters before taking a flex term, such as enrolling for fall, winter and spring quarters and then taking summer quarter as your flex term, you will need to take a leave of absence for immigration purposes. Please contact a Bechtel immigration advisor at email@example.com (and remember to include your student ID and SEVIS number) to arrange for a leave of absence. You do not need to file for a leave of absence with the registrar’s office (no e-Form needs to be submitted).
Can I as an undergraduate remain in the U.S. while on my flex term?
Unless you have been enrolled for three consecutive quarters before taking a flex term, such as enrolling for fall, winter and spring quarters and taking summer as your flex term, you will have to leave the U.S. during the flex term. This is due to the fact that you will be taking a leave of absence for immigration purposes during the flex term, and hence must depart the U.S. as per federal immigration regulations. Before re-entering the U.S. for the next quarter in which you will be enrolled, contact Bechtel (and remember to include your student ID and SEVIS number at firstname.lastname@example.org) to reactivate your SEVIS record or have a new I-20 issued.
I am an F-1 graduate student. Do I qualify for a flex term?
If I have taken a one year leave of absence, and return to Stanford only in spring quarter, will I qualify for Curricular Practical Training for that summer?
As an F-1 visa holder, you will have to wait a full academic year before you will be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefits. Immigration regulations state you will need to be in status for three quarters before qualifying for any type of off-campus work authorization like CPT or OPT. The exceptions to this rule are some graduate students whose programs (e.g. GSB MBA/Management Science and STEP programs) require immediate participation in CPT to fulfill the requirements of the program.
I am an undergraduate. How will taking a leave of absence with the university for a flex term affect my ability to apply for CPT/OPT in the future?
If your SEVIS record is terminated and you are issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number issued for “initial attendance”, you will have to be enrolled a full academic year before you will be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefits. Immigration regulations state you will need to be in status for three quarters before qualifying for any type of off-campus work permit like CPT or OPT.
Where can I find more information on the leave of absence process?
If I am issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number, how early can I enter the U.S.?.
You may enter at the earliest 30 days before the start date of your latest I-20 (J-1 students, may also enter 30 days before the start date of the DS-2019).
Can I use my previous I-20 to re-enter the U.S. if I have not been enrolled for over two quarters?
You will need to request a new I-20. This I-20 will have a new SEVIS number and will be issued for “initial attendance.” You may not re-enter the U.S. with the “old” I-20 even if it appears valid, because your SEVIS record corresponding to that old I-20 would have been terminated. Please retain all old I-20s, however, for your records.
Can I enter the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-2, WT a.k.a. ESTA) if my F-1 record has been terminated because I’m on a leave of absence from the university for one year?
Yes, you can enter as a tourist, because this will not jeopardize your F-1 status. Since your SEVIS record is terminated, however, you might be questioned at the port-of-entry for your reason for entering the U.S. If you are entering on a visa other than F-1, you should not be enrolled in any classes at Stanford, either full-time or part-time in classes.
As an undergraduate, can I enter the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-2, WT a.k.a. ESTA) during my flex quarter and enroll in any classes?
No. Not only do immigration regulations prohibit those enrolled for coursework toward their degrees from entering in tourist status (B-2/WT status may not be enrolled in degree-seeking coursework), but entering as a tourist will also jeopardize Bechtel’s ability to reactivate your F-1 SEVIS record.
As a transfer student, can Bechtel keep my record active if I defer or study remotely for fall quarter?
The federal government has stated that if transfer students defer for the fall quarter or enroll remotely from outside the U.S., universities have to complete their SEVIS records. Once the student plans to re-enter the U.S., for example for winter quarter, schools can request that SEVIS reactivate the record so the student will be able to keep the same SEVIS number. However, the government has stated they would reactivate transfer records on a “case-by-case basis” with no guarantee that they will reactivate all records. Unfortunately, we will not know whether SEVIS will agree to reactivate your record until we put in the request, which can be done no more than 60 days before the next quarter start date. So, if SEVIS was to deny the reactivation of your record, we would have to create a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number (and you would need to pay a new SEVIS fee based on the new SEVIS number), and you would not be eligible for CPT or OPT until you were enrolled in at least three quarters.
Will I have to obtain a new visa in my passport if my I-20 has a new SEVIS number?
If your current F-1 (J-1) visa in your passport is still valid, and says “Stanford University”, you may continue to use that visa for future re-entry with your new I-20 (or DS-2019 for J-1 students).
Will I have to pay the SEVIS fee for the new I-20 (DS-2019) which has a new SEVIS number?
Since the new I-20 / DS-2019 is issued for initial attendance, you will need to pay a SEVIS fee. You can find more information about this requirement at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/
How do I request a new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.?