For International Students

Suffolk has a long history of welcoming international students to our campus. As always, but especially during this challenging time, we are committed to supporting these valued members of our global community.

Below you will find important, up-to-date information about immigration, remote learning, campus operations, and the answers to your most frequently asked questions.

If you have additional questions, please contact the International Student Services Office.

Overview

The normal, pre-COVID rule states that international students may only take one online course while studying in the United States.

On March 9, 2020, SEVP released new, temporary guidance permitting schools to adapt their policies and procedures to rapidly changing health and safety conditions. This guidance required schools to alert SEVP of any procedural adaptations within ten (10) business days of the change.

On March 13, 2020, SEVP issued an addendum to the March 9 guidance. In this addendum, and, given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 health crisis, SEVP allowed F-1 students to temporarily take more than one online from inside or outside the United States. Between March and August 2020, SEVP issued additional guidance via a series of FAQ documents for international student advisors.

Yes. SEVP will continue to abide by guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-2022 academic year and has not made any changes to the March 2020 guidance.

The University will continue to offer online and Hyflex course options to students who are unable to return to the United States due to COVID-19. Online course requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your academic advisor and/or the International Student Services Office (ISSO) to initiate a request.

Due to the fluid nature of this situation, the answers in this document may be subject to change. Refer to ICE.gov/COVID19 for the most up-to-date version.

Suffolk will continue to offer students a combination of On Campus, Online Synchronous, Online Asynchronous, Hyflex (on campus or online synchronous), and Hybrid courses during the 2021-2022 academic year. For more information, please review the definitions of learning environments/course modalities.

Please visit the COVID-19 Campus Updates website where you will find important, detailed information related to Suffolk’s response and reopening plan.

New Students

If you are able to obtain a student visa before departing for the United States and travel to Boston, you will be permitted to enter the country and begin your studies at the Suffolk Boston campus in a combination of on-campus and online classes. You should plan to take at least one on-campus course (whether Hyflex, hybrid or traditional in-person/on-campus). If you are unable to travel to Boston, you can take your courses online from your home country. If you must take your courses online from outside the United States, it is your responsibility to comply with any regulations related to online learning in your home country.

Please remember that when attempting entry to the U.S., you must always be in possession of a valid student visa and must not be from a country subject to any travel restrictions at that time.

If you must remain outside the United States and take classes online, you may do so. In this case, we will need to defer your I-20 to a future semester and you will not be in Active F-1 SEVIS status during the present semester. This option will allow you to begin or continue your academic program, stay on track for an on-time graduation, obtain your F-1 visa as soon as possible, and then join us in person in the future. Please remember that if you choose to take your courses online from outside the United States, it is your responsibility to comply with any regulations related to online learning in your home country. Please reach out to the ISSO office for more information.

Transfer Students

The current DHS guidance allows online instruction for students who choose to transfer their I-20. However, this guidance does not allow new transfer I-20s to be activated until you are present in the U.S.

If you are already inside the United States or will be able to arrive by the start of classes, you will be permitted to engage in fully online instruction if needed.

If you are not currently inside the United States, and if you cannot arrive but have already transferred your I-20 to Suffolk, the International Student Services Office (ISSO) will need to keep your record in initial status. Initial records automatically terminate if you do not arrive within 30 days of the start date on your I-20, but the ISSO can work with immigration to have it reactivated when you are ready to come to campus. Please be sure to keep us informed of your plans. You will be able to engage in fully online coursework from your home country, subject to any restrictions in your home country, and maintain continuous F-1 status.

Change of Level

F-1 students who are undergoing an F-1 Change of Level will be treated as continuing students and may engage in fully online instruction if needed.

USCIS Change of Status & Change of Status via Travel

If you have applied for and been approved for a USCIS Change of Status to F-1, you should plan to take at least one on-campus course (whether Hyflex, hybrid or traditional in-person/on-campus).

If you are applying to change to F-1 via travel, you will need to depart the U.S., apply for an F-1 visa, and will need to re-enter to activate your F-1 status. You must take at least one on-campus course (whether Hyflex, hybrid or traditional in-person/on-campus).

You will not be permitted to start classes until your change of status has been approved and you have shared proof of your approval with the International Student Services Office.

For undergraduate students: In order to maintain your merit award or scholarship, you are required to register for and maintain a full-time course load. Please remember that taking a reduced course load may also impact your ability to graduate on time.

For graduate and law students: If you enroll part-time, your merit award will be adjusted accordingly. Please contact your admissions or financial aid counselor for more information.

 

It may. If you are not in active F-1 SEVIS status, you will not begin accruing time towards the one academic year required for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship authorization or Optional Practical Training (OPT) post-completion employment. To be eligible for CPT or OPT authorization, students must have been enrolled continuously for one academic year in active F-1 status.

Exception for some graduate students: The only exception is that CPT is available to graduate students for whom internship is a degree program requirement for all students prior to the completion of one academic year. No exception currently exists for OPT.

If you are a new student and you begin attending your online and Hyflex classes from your home country, and you are then granted a student visa, you can arrive up to 30 days after the start of your academic program. Please be aware that your I-20 will be automatically terminated if you do not arrive within 30 days of your program start date. If this happens, we encourage you to contact the ISSO.

Continuing Students

Yes, current DHS guidance permits an online course load if you were in the U.S. and have been continuously enrolled since March 2020. At this time, continuing international students who are already inside the United States or who plan to return to the United States for the upcoming semester are permitted to enroll in all online courses, if necessary and on a space-available basis.

Please be aware, however, that online course options are limited and that students already inside the United States should plan to return to Boston to resume on-campus classes.

Suffolk continues to employ a “hybrid model” of instruction. According to the current guidance, on a temporary basis you will be permitted to take more than one course online, if necessary. You will only be able to take all courses online if you have been in the U.S. and continuously enrolled since March 2020.

At this time, you do not need a new I-20.

As a continuing student, the temporary COVID-19 guidance allows to remain outside the United States and take all of your classes online, or through a combination of online and HyFlex, and maintain your Active F-1 status. You can then return to campus when you are able. Please remember that if you must take your courses online from outside the United States, it is your responsibility to comply with any regulations related to online learning in your home country.

Please be advised that Suffolk University is not able to guarantee the availability of program-specific online courses. If you will be unable to enter the United States this fall due to COVID-19, you should contact your academic advisor and/or the ISSO to discuss the best plan of action.

Yes, but be sure to factor in time zone differences as all Hyflex classes are delivered synchronously (in real time).

No. If you are an Active F student making normal progress in your course of study, the ISSO will be able to maintain your SEVIS record and I-20.

If you are a continuing student and you already have an F-1 visa, your visa will not be cancelled if you are studying online from your home country. Your SEVIS record and I-20 will remain active even if you are taking all online courses from outside the United States.

Since SEVP is allowing you to maintain your Active status in SEVIS, you still need to maintain full-time enrollment. If you wish to be enrolled part-time, we will need to terminate your I-20. We will issue you another I-20 for the following semester.

No. You can remain in Active status even if you are taking your classes online from outside the United States. This means that the upcoming semester will still count towards the time required to be eligible to apply for OPT. Please keep in mind, however, that in order to apply for OPT, you must be present in the United States.

Additional Important FAQs

No. At this time, you are not be able to work remotely for Suffolk while living outside the country. If you will be inside the United States during the semester, you are permitted to engage in remote work for Suffolk University.

Yes, provided that you meet all eligibility requirements for CPT, you are permitted to do a remote internship from outside the United States. Please contact the ISSO for more information about applying for CPT.

Recent graduates on OPT may continue working.

You should discuss such a decision with your parents / family to make the best decision based on your personal situation. When deciding what to do, please pay careful attention to COVID-19 travel regulations in effect for the United States and your home country. It is your responsibility to abide by these regulations.

If you have a valid F-1 visa and plan to study inside the United States this semester, then your spouse or children will be able to continue to receive their dependent I-20 and travel with you to Boston for your studies. If you decide to study online from outside the United States, then your spouse and dependents will need to remain with you in your home country.