On July 6, 2020, SEVP/ICE announced regulatory guidance for F-1 international student enrollment for fall 2020. The guidance states that international students attending schools operating entirely online may not remain in the United States. This also applies to international students who elect to take their classes online at the same time they are given face-to-face. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in these schools, nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. To avoid immigration consequences, students must either leave the U.S. or transfer to a school with in-person instruction.
Fresno Pacific University also interprets this guidance to prohibit international students from beginning the semester in face-to-face or blended programs, then fully transition to online learning and still remain in the U.S. It is our belief that international students could, due to exposure or possible exposure to COVID-19, attend classes virtually while self-isolating or being in quarantine, with the intention to return to face-to-face instruction when medically permitted.
At present, FPU plans to operate primarily in-person this fall, so international students currently have the option to remain at FPU and study face-to-face. The exception would be programs already primarily online. For these, international students would be required to participate from outside the United States. The university understands that continuing students living outside the U.S. and studying remotely will continue their progress toward degrees, and FPU will help them adjust their visas as needed.
To support international students in this process, the Campus Life Division will,
- Comply with additional SEVP reporting requirements to SEVP.
- Issue new I20s for students as needed.
- Communicate with students both inside and outside the U.S. on the intersection of FPU’s academic plans and these regulations.
Angela Chapa Munoz, director of international programs and service, will act as FPU’s Principal Designated School Official (PDSO).
“We at FPU value our international students, as we do all our students, and will continue to support them as best we can,” said Dale Scully, vice president of campus life.