International Students Office Update

“NAU will not be fully online for the Fall 2020 semester: You DO NOT need to transfer, and you DO NOT need to depart from the country. You will remain in status, if you are attending your classes.”

Dear NAU Family, I hope that you and your families are staying safe during these current times. I would like to inform you all on a couple of things that have been brought to my attention concerning the Fall 2020 semester.

As you may know, due to the COVID-19 virus all Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified schools were allowed to switch all F-1 students to all online courses for the Spring and Summer 2020 semester. This will NOT be the case for the Fall 2020 semester. SEVP has given all PDSO/DSO’s specific instructions on how to handle the temporary exemptions that will be allowed in the Fall 2020 semester. These temporary exemptions include:

  • Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
  • Students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G)).
  • Students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v))).

I would like to encourage you all NOT TO PANIC based on the news/social media stories you are seeing. SEVP has given us specific instructions on how to handle your records and keep you all in status. NAU has already made plans for you all to keep your current status and comply with the current exemptions that we have been given. A lot of you may be confused about what these exemptions may mean for your status at NAU, so I will list a couple of FACTS below.

  • NAU WILL NOT BE FULLY ONLINE FOR THE FALL 2020 SEMESTER: You DO NOT need to transfer, and you DO NOT need to depart from the country. You will remain in status, if you are attending your classes
  • We have set up a plan for all undergraduate and graduate students to take hybrid courses, so I will be taking the current measures to update all your records and notifying SEVP that we will be utilizing the hybrid model. NAU administration, faculty, and staff are currently all working hard to get these classes set up for the Fall semester. Please make sure to register via the calendar for your correct number of classes for the Fall, which I will define the minimum requirements below. (YOU WILL RECEIVE MORE DETAILS ON THIS SOON)
  • All students currently on STEM/OPT or have pending applications are still ACTIVE and can continue as normal.
  • Even though we will not be operating fully online we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still active, we are still taking safety measures on campus to make sure that you all remain safe and healthy during the Fall semester
  • If you have departed from the country and cannot or do not plan on returning for the Fall, please send an email to so that I may discuss with you on how your record will be handled.