Considerations for Spring 2021 Enrollment


In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published a series of FAQs that provided schools with regulatory and SEVIS record-keeping flexibility for F-1 students in the spring and summer semesters. On July 6, 2020, SEVP issued a more restrictive directive for fall 2020 that would have negatively impacted F-1 students.  On July 14, 2020, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agreed in federal court to rescind plans for the new rule and returned to the flexibility that was allowed based on previous FAQ guidance originally published in March.  On July 24, 2020, SEVP provided additional clarifying FAQs for fall 2020.

Spring 2021 Enrollment Considerations

SEVP has not yet issued specific guidance for Spring 2021, so the enrollment considerations on this page are based on the current guidance available for Fall 2020.  Guidance for Spring may change if SEVP publishes updates, and any changes will be included on this webpage.  We hope that international students will be able to return to the Boston area to continue their program on campus, whenever possible and practical. Boston University’s Learn from Anywhere academic plan, as outlined in the Back2BU portal, will continue to allow students the flexibility to achieve their academic goals by offering a choice of either remote only, or hybrid instruction with some in-person components on campus. SEVP FAQs will allow BU to maintain active SEVIS records for continuing students who choose either mode of instruction. However, the FAQs require new students entering the United States for the first time this spring, to enroll in hybrid classes on campus with an in-person component.  SEVP defines a “new student” as someone who will be entering the United States for the first time and using a Form I-20 listed “Initial Attendance” as the reason for issuance.  New students interested in studying only in remote courses for Spring 2021 should plan to remain in their home country for the entire semester.

The clarifying FAQs confirm that F-1 students will be able to remain in the US should BU need to switch to fully online instruction mid-semester because of the COVID emergency.

CPT/OPT Eligibility

Students must be lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (two semesters) before they qualify for off-campus work authorization (most commonly Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training).

  • Students who began a new degree program in Fall 2020 and are seeking CPT for a Summer 2021 internship must be fulfilling an academic requirement in their degree program to qualify for CPT and must be inside the United States in valid F-1 status in order to qualify for CPT.
  • Continuing students (students enrolled and in F-1 status on March 9, 2020) seeking CPT authorization for a Summer 2021 internship must be fulfilling an academic requirement in their degree program and have an active SEVIS record to qualify for CPT.
  • In order to apply for OPT, students must be in the United States in valid F-1 status in order to file the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization to USCIS.  Therefore, students graduating in May 2021 must return to the US prior to their graduation date (May 16, 2021) to be eligible to apply for OPT.

Please consider the following scenarios: