The international student population is integral to UC’s goals of creating a diverse learning and living environment for all students. Finding ways to educate and engage this population during this time is crucial.
We will continue to monitor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance on regulatory requirements for international students. Under normal circumstances, an international student can only use 3 credit hours (or one class) of online courses to fulfill the full-time enrollment requirement (12 credit hours at the undergraduate level and 10 credit hours at the graduate level). However, see the International Student FAQ for details about how DHS has temporarily relaxed many of the enrollment regulations
International students residing in the U.S.
New students entering the U.S. for the first time must be enrolled in a full-course of study. This means being enrolled for at least 12 credit hours at the undergraduate level and 10 credit hours at the graduate level. To reach the full-time enrollment threshold only one class or 3 credit hours can be in online courses. That means if you are an undergraduate student you have to be enrolled for at least 12 credit hours with 9 or more of those credit hours being in-person classes. Graduate students would need to be enrolled for at least 10 credit hours with at least 7 credit hours of in-person courses.
Continuing international students residing in the United States will be able to enroll based on what their program is offering. Since UC is returning to primarily in-person courses, most programs will be returning to pre-pandemic levels of in-person course offerings. If your program has returned to pre-pandemic levels of in-person course offerings you must enroll full-time and can only use one course or 3 credit hours of online courses to reach the full-time enrollment threshold. If your program has not returned to pre-pandemic levels of in-person course offerings and can offer enough online courses, you would be allowed to remain enrolled online and keep your F-1 SEVIS record active for the 2021-2022 academic year. Please check with your program for course availability.
International students residing abroad
Many incoming and continuing international students who are currently abroad will not be able to obtain visas in time to arrive in the U.S. by the beginning of the semester or may choose to remain abroad during the pandemic. Since UC is returning to primarily in-person courses Fall Semester 2021, many programs will not have enough online course offerings to allow you to enroll full-time online. For continuing students, if your program can offer enough online courses, you would be allowed to remain enrolled online and keep your F-1 SEVIS record active for the 2021-2022 academic year. Newly admitted students could also enroll online from outside the U.S. but might have reduced Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) options if they take their first semester online from outside the country. You don’t begin to accumulate time towards OPT and CPT eligibility until you enroll in the U.S.
COVID-19 requirements and travel from international destinations
Newly arrived fully vaccinated international students who voluntarily submit proof of vaccination will be exempted from the travel-related need to quarantine upon their arrival to campus ahead of the Fall Term. Only FDA- and WHO-authorized vaccines will be accepted.
Newly arrived international students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to quarantine for 7 to 10 days, depending on whether they obtain a COVID test and the results of that test. Those newly arrived international students who are partially vaccinated will be required to quarantine and then will be offered options to complete voluntary vaccination once quarantine is complete.
International students who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 days will not be required to participate in travel-related quarantine.
Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel, upon arrival.
Communication and cultural differences
All UC units should prepare for how international students will interpret U.S. distancing and safety rules. UC International will communicate with students prior to their arrival to prepare them for UC’s physical distancing and safety expectations, including procedures for health checks and acknowledging differences regarding personal space and interactions.
The university should place added emphasis on:
- Guidelines to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus.
- Communicating the procedures on recognizing COVID-19 symptoms.
- What to do if students become ill.
- Further encourage both inclusive language and behavior that embraces all students.
Units are encouraged to consider the following:
- Some international students may request to defer enrollment.
- Students with teaching responsibilities may need training to carry out their duties online. IT@UC and CET&L can assist with such training.
- Preparation for both online and face-to-face instructional formats and the challenges associated with engaging with different cohorts of students.
- Allowing students to make up work should they face visa delays and arrive on campus after the beginning of the semester.
- Maintaining special sections of courses (e.g. Technical Writing) for international students.
- Online learning requires greater use of written communication, which may disadvantage students for whom English is a second language.