24 July 2020

We hope this email finds you well. We’re writing to make sure you are aware that the US government has released new guidance today, which now formally separates how they are accommodating newly-admitted international students from returning international students.

Importantly, these new guidelines do not apply to returning students, or those who held F-1 status on March 9, 2020 and transferred their I-20s to NYU.

This new guidance states that any newly-admitted undergraduate or graduate international student will be required to have at least one in-person (or blended) class in order to study in the United States for the Fall 2020 semester (unless, again, a student has transferred their I-20 to NYU from another school). However, the guidelines also state that if the University is forced to go entirely online at some point during the upcoming semester, all students will be permitted to remain in the US without any effect on their immigration status as long as they continue to be enrolled full-time.

Please review this information over the weekend and if you need to change your course enrollment, please talk to your school-based academic advisors to discuss options that may be available to you. We’ve provided additional details below.

Newly Admitted International Students and International Students Returning from a Personal Leave of Absence

Newly admitted international students and international students returning from a personal leave of absence (students who have “initial” status SEVIS records) who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be completely online will likely not be able to obtain a student visa (though ultimately that decision is made by the US Department of State). The guidance also indicates that nonimmigrant students in "new" or "initial" status after March 9, 2020 will not be able to enter the US to enroll in a US school if their course of study is 100 percent online.

For this reason, it is very important that any student planning to travel into the United States be enrolled in at least one in-person or blended course. If you are not currently enrolled in at least one in-person or blended course, please work with your academic advisor early next week to identify an appropriate option. 
We also recommend that you print out your course schedule and carry it with you when attending your visa interview and when you travel into the United States (along with the other recommended travel documents highlighted on our Plan Your Trip page). Please note that if you are unable to enter the United States by the start date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019, we ask that you submit your updated US entry plan information to us.

Please keep in mind that if you choose to take all of your courses for the upcoming semester remotely or plan to attend Go Local, you do not need a US student visa in order to begin your studies from outside of the US. You will, however, need a student visa (except for Canadian citizens) at the time that you do travel into the United States to begin or continue your studies at NYU.
To discuss these topics further, we encourage you to attend one of our upcoming webinars where we will address questions surrounding visa appointments and this most recent version of the government guidance: Additionally, consider attending our August 3 webinar specifically addressing what to expect for your visa application and interview.

Returning International Students

Returning international students (students who have had active SEVIS records since at least March 9, 2020) can continue to count online classes towards a full course of study. This temporary provision is in effect for the “duration of the emergency.” Regardless of whether you are currently inside or outside of the United States, as long as you are a full-time enrolled student, NYU will continue to maintain your student status. This means that if you have an active SEVIS record, you will continue to have a valid I-20 or DS-2019 for as long as you are enrolled full-time at NYU and the expiration date on your I-20 or DS-2019 has not yet expired. Please review our travel information for documents needed to enter the United States if you will be traveling to the US soon.

We recognize that there have been many changes happening over the course of the last few weeks. Please know that we will continue to update you if any further changes occur and that we are here to support you always. As part of the NYU Returns webinar series, on July 28 at 9:00am ET there will be a session specifically on international student support that we encourage you to attend. You can also refer to our COVID-19 resource page for further updates as they occur.


Sherif Barsoum, Associate Vice President,
Office of Global Services


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