Temporary Exemption Regarding the Online Study Policy for International Students
July 15, 2020 - Updated Memo to International Students
July 15, 2020
Dear International Students,
I'm writing to inform you that the Temporary Final Rule regarding online classes, published on June 6, was rescinded in a federal court on Tuesday, July 14. International students are now bound by the guidance from the Department of Homeland Security that was published on March 9, 2020.
In this earlier guidance, the Department of Homeland Security provided a certain amount of latitude in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this guidance, F-1 international students are allowed to maintain their legal status in the US as long as they continue to enroll full-time at the institution listed on their I-20 document. Students can maintain their status with a full course load even if the course work is online-only or a mix of face-to-face and online coursework.
Students that have already departed the U.S. or will depart the U.S. before the fall semester can maintain their F-1 immigration status while residing outside the U.S. In order to maintain F-1 status while residing outside the U.S., however, a student must take a full course load of online classes.
Please be aware that other factors, such as travel bans to the U.S., are still in effect. In addition, U.S. embassies around the world are still closed for regular visa processing. This may make it difficult for international students to re-enter for the fall semester to resume in-person studies at TTU. Therefore, we do not recommend travel unless you plan to stay outside of the US for the fall. If you have plans to depart the United States for the fall, please consult with your international student counselor, your academic advisor, your employer at TTU, and the Graduate School.
Richard Porter, Ed.D.
Director of International Student and Scholar Services
July 10, 2020 - Memo to International Students
July 10, 2020
Dear International Students:
Let me start by stating that we truly believe that you are an essential part of our community and that your contributions are a great strength of our diverse campus culture and learning environment. Please know that we are working closely with our peers in the Big 12, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and the Council of Graduate Schools to advocate for you and keep our campuses comprehensively internationalized.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications on Monday (July 6th, 2020) to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. The United States Department of Homeland Security plans to publish these new procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule. The July 6th SEVP announcement is subject to change, and we expect that additional guidance will be forthcoming in the days ahead. Our immediate priority, however, is to put in place an operational plan that allows you to meet the requirements of this Temporary Final Rule, as it is written today. First, there is no need to make any changes to your current (Summer 2020) plan of study, as the July 6th SEVP announcement only applies to fall 2020 enrollment.
For the fall 2020 semester, Texas Tech University plans to resume in-person teaching and learning using a blend of face-to-face, hybrid (a combination of face-to-face instruction and online learning), and online modalities. Our course modalities will remain flexible with approximately two-thirds of our courses taught using some degree of face-to-face instruction. We believe all of you will have the opportunity to enroll in the necessary courses to meet the new guidance and remain on campus or return to campus this fall. Please carefully study the following set of guidelines and take appropriate actions in consultation with your advisor to comply with the revised regulations.
- Do not register for an online-only degree program
- Do not take an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester.
- Register for the required minimum hours for F-1 students (9 hours for graduate students and 12 hours for undergraduate students).
- The July 6th SEVP announcement stipulates that international students attending schools adopting a hybrid model – a mixture of online and face-to-face instruction – will be allowed to take more than one course or three credit hours online. Face-toface courses are preferred, and students should be taking the minimum number of online courses required to make normal progress in their degree program. The announcement further stipulates that students cannot take an entirely online course load, but it does not specify the number of face-to-face hours required. We do not have a definitive interpretation of this requirement, but we believe you must register for at least three credit hours of coursework (more than three is optimal) that is faceto-face or hybrid instruction. In addition, if possible, you should enroll in at least one (1) credit hour of independent study such as special problems, research, or thesis/dissertation.
- Register for fall 2020 classes as soon as possible.
We will continue to work with your program directors and advisors to ensure your enrollment is compliant with the revised guidelines. OIA's International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS) will be issuing new I-20 documents for all enrolled TTU F-1 students by August 4th, as required in this Temporary Final Rule. These new I-20s will include a notation indicating that TTU will not be online-only this fall. While ISSS is required to issue these new documents by August 4th, students currently in the U.S. will not be required to have the document in their possession by that date. If you are currently outside the U.S. and plan to re-enter for the fall, please contact your international student counselor to arrange for this document to be sent to you. After we issue these new documents, you will receive an e-mail explaining how and where you can receive your new I-20.
Continuing-enrolled students residing outside the U.S. in the fall semester may take online courses. However, it is unclear at this point, whether your SEVIS record can be kept active even if you are enrolled in a full online course load while living outside the U.S. We are seeking clarification from SEVP. If this is your situation, please contact your international student counselor in ISSS.
If you have questions about the guidance's implications for your situation, we encourage you to contact your international counselor for further advice. You are always welcome to contact ISSS director, Dr. Richard Porter, or me, with general questions and concerns.
Vice Provost for International Affairs
July 8, 2020 - SEVP Guidance for International Students
July 8, 2020
Dear Texas Tech University Community,
We wholly support our international students, and we will continue to provide them with the exceptional education and individual attention that led them to choose Texas Tech to advance their academic careers. Our international students are an essential part of our community, and their contributions are a great strength of our diverse campus culture and learning environment.
On Monday, July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new guidance for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that restricts international students from returning to or remaining in the U.S. if their university courses are fully online. The Office of the Provost has worked closely with deans and faculty to ensure as many courses as possible are taught with some degree of face-to-face learning. Approximately two-thirds of our courses will have a face-to-face component, and most students have the option to select courses that meet face-to-face, online, or through hybrid instruction. To reaffirm what was shared in yesterday's memo, we anticipate all international students will have the opportunity to enroll in the necessary courses to meet the new guidance and remain on campus or return to campus this fall. If you have specific questions about course requirements, please contact your academic advisor. Please direct all other questions on the SEVP guidance to Sukant Misra, Vice Provost for International Affairs.
We are working closely with our peers in the Big 12, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and the Council of Graduate Schools to advocate for our international students and communicate the value of their experience, not only for our international students, but for our entire campus and the Lubbock community.
Vice Provost for International Affairs
Vice Provost for Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs
Dean of the Graduate School
July 7, 2020 - Temporary Exemptions for Nonimmigrant Students
Date: July 7, 2020
From: Sukant Misra, Vice Provost for International Affairs
Michael Galyean, Provost and Senior Vice President
To: Texas Tech University Students, Faculty, and Staff
Re: Temporary Exemptions for Nonimmigrant Students
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications on Monday (July 6, 2020) to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish these new procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.
The purpose of this memorandum is to give a quick update on how this rule might affect our international student population. Texas Tech University plans to resume in-person teaching and learning for the Fall 2020 semester using a blend of face-to-face, hybrid (combination of face-to-face instruction and online learning), and online modalities. Our course modalities will remain flexible with approximately two-thirds of our courses being taught using some degree of face-to-face instruction. As long as international students are not registered for an online-only degree program and are not taking an entirely online course load for Fall 2020, they will be able to meet the requirements of this Temporary Final Rule and we will be able to maintain appropriate student records. This will allow international students to return to or to remain at Texas Tech University for the Fall 2020 semester.
We will continue to monitor the situation as the semester progresses and adapt to any further changes in the rule that might be announced. Please feel free to contact Dr. Richard Porter, OIA's Director of International Student and Scholar Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions. Thank you.