SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance for New Students

This communication was sent via email to new, incoming international students on July 17th. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: On July 24th the US government confirmed that new F1 students will not be able to come to the US if they are enrolled in an entirely online class schedule. USF is looking into how this will impact our students and provide more information soon.

Dear USF Community,

We were all very pleased to learn that the SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance was rescinded earlier this week. The policy was cruel and unfair and would have required international students to risk their health, their good immigration standing, and important F-1 benefits such as Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT), in weighing decisions about their educational goals.

While there may be further clarifications for incoming students, we wanted to provide you with the latest information so you can continue planning your travel to the U.S.

If you are already in the U.S. (including SEVIS transfer students): You may enroll in classes that are all online and may remain in the U.S. You will need to complete the ISSS Status Verification process in August, complete the mandatory online orientation, and maintain a full-course load.

If you are currently outside of the U.S. and do not intend to travel to the U.S. in the fall: You can take your classes online from home. In September, you will receive a new I-20 from USF with your start date adjusted to the spring 2021 semester. You can use this I-20 to apply for your new F-1 visa. Your appointment needs to be scheduled after mid-September (no earlier than 120 days before the spring 2021 term start date).

  • SEVIS transfer students will have their SEVIS record turned off for the fall. Please contact ISSS 60 days before the start of the term you plan to return for so that we can help you reactivate your SEVIS record. If you are returning to campus for the spring 2021 semester, please email us no later than November 30. ISSS will then provide you with a new I-20 for travel. Do not enter the U.S. without a new I-20 as it will cause a problem at immigration when you arrive. If you already have a valid F-1 visa (not expired) you do not need a new one, and you can use that visa to reenter the U.S.

If you are currently outside of the U.S. but plan to travel to the U.S. in the fall: Your options vary depending on your arrival date:

  • If you are arriving before August 24: You can use your current I-20 for travel.
  • If you are arriving between August 24 - September 4: ISSS can issue you a late arrival letter for August.
  • If you are arriving after September 4: Please contact your admission counselor to request a new I-20.

As you are planning, please keep in mind both travel restrictions and consulate closures. We will find out more in the coming week about visa issuance and SEVIS record requirements for new students and will update you if anything changes.

Visa appointments: Whether you plan to enter the U.S. this fall or not, you should book your visa appointment now. F-1 students are eligible to apply for a visa 120 days prior to the start date on your I-20. Due to COVID-19 and US Consulate Closures, many visa appointments have been canceled by the consulate. If your visa appointment was canceled, you should reschedule for the next available appointment.

This week the US Department of State announced that some US Consulates will begin to reopen and lifted European travel restrictions. With the recent changes there has been some confusion with individual consulates about the in-person class requirements for F1 students. F1 students are not required to be in classes that are in-person. The US Consulate in Germany has recognized this but not all consulates have updated their information and internal training yet.

Check on your Consulates website or contact them to request an expedited appointment. If you need an expedited appointment due to your travel plans, please contact if you are an undergraduate student or if you are a graduate student so that we can provide you with a visa appointment expedite letter. Learn more about the U.S. visa application and interview on the ISSS website.

Traveling to the U.S.: Remember to bring all of the required documents for travel. There are some travel restrictions in many countries, including entry restrictions for those coming from China, Iran, and Brazil. The US travel restrictions were just lifted for F1 students coming from the Schengen area, Ireland and the UK. Now F1 students who are in these countries can travel directly to the US. Read more about these travel restrictions and other COVID-19 related questions on the ISSS FAQ page.

In order to support students as you make your plans for travel and arrival to the U.S., USF has established a Global Mobility Team. The Global Mobility Team can provide support and information for your travel so that you can make the best decision about how and when to travel to campus. Please contact our team at

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the U.S. and to USF whether you arrive in the fall or the spring. We know you have worked hard to earn this educational opportunity, and we are committed to supporting you and maximizing the immigration benefits of your education in the U.S. While there is no justification for the confusion and hardship international students were put through this past week, I hope you find some comfort in knowing how fiercely universities such as USF fought back.

With the global health crisis still unfolding, we know there may be more challenges ahead. We are grateful for a community that responds with care and commitment to Jesuit values needed to overcome these challenges.


Marcella Johanna Pitcher DeProto
Director, International Student and Scholar Services