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Maintaining F-1 status at CCA : fall 2020

On Monday, July 20th, CCA announced that classes for fall 2020 will be offered fully online.

All currently enrolled students received an update from the Provost's office on outlining the fall 2020 update.


Current CCA students : F-1 non-immigrant status and online classes


For current CCA students with an active SEVIS record, meaning that they were a F-1 student in the US during spring 2020 or summer 2020 :

As of July 15, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that F-1 students should follow the March 2020 guidance from SEVP that does allow F-1 students to enroll full time in 100% online classes if they have an active SEVIS record at CCA. On July 24, 2020, SEVP provided additional information through the Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020 Based on March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast.

Continuing students who were enrolled full-time in spring 2020 or summer 2020 and who never left the US will be allowed to stay in the US taking fully online courses as long as they are enrolled full-time for fall 2020. Students in this situation will also be allowed to study online from outside the US, as long as they are enrolled full time. This is addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID -19 guidance on page 2, stating "SEVP will allow F and M students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere."

This was reinforced further in the July 24, 2020 Clarifying Questions document on page 2 : "Per the March 2020 guidance, yes, nonimmigrant students may remain in the United States to engage in full course of study online if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status since March 9, 2020. This includes students who have remained in the U.S. in active status and are starting a new program of study that is 100 percent online. These individuals do not need a new visa to continue their programs of study. Students engaged in 100 percent online coursework will be able to maintain their nonimmigrant status and not be subject to initiation of removal proceedings based on their online studies."

Frequently asked questions for current CCA students about fall 2020 and online learning:

Question : Can I travel back to the United States in F-1 status during the fall 2020 semester?

Answer : Continuing students who were enrolled full-time in spring 2020 or summer 2020 but who left the US will be allowed to return to the US to take fully online classes long as they are enrolled full-time for fall 2020. The SEVP FAQ document states this on page 13 of the document as "Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, students should refer to their local embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States."

Question : Can I apply to renew my F-1 visa during the fall 2020 semester if I am enrolled full time in online classes?

Answer : Yes. The Clarifying Questions document addresses this on page 1 of the document : "If a nonimmigrant student was enrolled in a course of study in the United States on March 9, 2020, but subsequently left the country, that student likely remains eligible for a visa since the March 2020 guidance permitted a full online course of study from inside the United States or from abroad."

Question : What is the impact of online classes on F-1 benefits like Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for current students:

Answer : Continuing students at CCA that enroll in full time online classes for fall 2020 will have no impact on a students eligibility to apply for CPT or OPT. As stated in the SEVP FAQ document on page 10, "An F student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS and meets the requirements of their school’s procedural change plans submitted to SEVP."

Please note that new fall 2020 students that are studying online from outside the US are not in F-1 status until they enter the country for the first time using their F-1 visa and their CCA I-20, so therefore are not in ACTIVE status, and not accruing eligibility for CPT and OPT.


New fall 2020 CCA students : F-1 nonimmigrant status and online classes


New students for fall 2020 fall into two categories, so please review the information below closely:

New students for fall 2020 that are currently outside the United States:

New F-1 international students for fall 2020 that are currently outside of the United States can study fully online, but should remain outside the US for the fall semester. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID -19 guidance document states on page 3 that "If Initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country."

The July 24 Clarifying Questions for Fall 2020 Based on March 9 Spring Guidance Broadcast document included language discouraging students with I-20s issued for "initial attendance" from applying for a visa for fall 2020. This is addressed on page 1 of the document saying "As a result, new or initial nonimmigrant students who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be conducted completely online will likely not be able to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa to study in the United States."

New students that have been issued "initial attendance" I-20s for fall 2020 will be contacted by the ISAP team in mid-October to update I-20 paperwork for a spring 2021 arrival in the US to attend classes on campus.

Please note that new fall 2020 students that are studying online from outside the US are not in F-1 status until they enter the country for the first time using their F-1 visa and their CCA I-20, so therefore are not in ACTIVE status, and not accruing eligibility for CPT and OPT.

New students for fall 2020 that are "SEVIS transfers" and are currently inside the United States:

  • For new F-1 international students for fall 2020 that transferred their SEVIS record to CCA and are currently residing inside the United States with a CCA I-20 issued for "transfer pending", current Immigration guidance indicates that students in this situation can remain in the US and take online only classes as long as they are enrolled full time. This is addressed in the SEVP FAQ on page 13, stating that "Transfer students inside the United States must report to a DSO at their transfer-in school in person or using electronic means within 15 days of their program start date (8 CFR 214.2(f)(8)(ii)(C)). The DSO must complete the transfer process and register the student as Active in SEVIS. Students should follow the guidelines the school provides to all its F and M students related to COVID-19."


The ISAP staff is available to answer any questions or concerns students may have about F-1 non-immigrant status during fall 2020 and COVID-19. Please email us at isap@cca.edu or make an appointment with an ISAP advisor for assistance.


To review ISAP's summary of the previous guidance, dated July 6, 2020 (again, this was rescinded July 14, 2020 and no longer applies), review the SEVP Guidance July 6, 2020 document in the related documents section of this page.