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Online Credit Requirements Adjusted For International Students Due To In-Person Class Cancellation

When Penn State canceled in-person classes and announced a switch to remote learning for several weeks, some international students may have been concerned that the new structure would not allow them to meet their visa status.

Normally, international students are required to enroll full-time to fulfill the requirements of an F-1 student visa, and no more than three credits of online courses are permitted to count toward their enrollment.

But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has relaxed these requirements, and will allow universities to be “flexible on the mode of delivery” of its classes during remote learning periods, according to an email sent to Penn State’s international student community from the university.

“Everyone enrolled this semester who will now have classes through remote learning for at least three weeks will remain in status,” the email reads. “In other words, Penn State’s announcement will not have an effect on your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record.”

The university will also offer remote advising for international students, according to the email.

Associate Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Yvonne Gaudelius confirmed that Penn State had contacted Homeland Security to explain the university’s move to online classes

“The Office of Global Programs has already reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and explained the situation,” she said. “As long as [international students] remain full-time, they do not have to worry about their visa status.”

Gaudelius added that the university had also contacted the Department of Education and other agencies.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the U.S. Education Department had eased several requirements, including those related to the validity of online courses, for universities due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Department also released a guidance document for universities with advice on compliance with the Title IV, Higher Education Act.

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About the Author

Jim Davidson

Jim is a junior English and history major and the features editor for Onward State. He, like most of the Penn State undergraduate population, is from 'just outside Philadelphia,' and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He covers a variety of Penn State topics, but spends nine months of every year waiting for the start of soccer season. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @messijim.

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