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Background

International students on an F-1 visa are required by Federal Regulation 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) to maintain full-time enrollment for both fall and spring semesters and are limited to the number of distance learning credit hours that count toward full-time enrollment. Based on the full-time requirements at UWF:

  • F-1 undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of nine (9) face-to-face credit hours in the fall and spring semesters.
  • F-1 graduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of three (3) face-to-face credit hours in the fall and spring semesters.
  • Please note that students in the last semester of a degree program may drop below full-time enrollment as long as one course is face-to-face.

For the purposes of fulfilling these requirements we can accept the following instructional methods to count toward maintaining the face-to-face requirement minimums:

  • Primarily Classroom Course (CL)
  • Hybrid Course (HB)
  • Primarily Distance Learning Course (PD)


Students who are unable to maintain the full-time requirement minimums are subject to the termination of their F-1 visa status and must depart the United States.


*See section below titled “Identification of F-1 International Students” for detailed instructions on how to properly identify a student enrolled at UWF in F-1 status.

Current Policy Considerations

On July 6, 2020, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a branch of the US Department Homeland Security, released guidance that will allow students in F-1 status studying at an institution which has adopted a “hybrid” model of instruction to maintain F-1 status by enrolling in the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. An excerpt from the SEVP Broadcast Message includes the following:

“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 full guidance from SEVP can be viewed here:  https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf

Updated FAQs from SEVP can be viewed here:  https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/sevisFall2020_FAQ.pdf

Application of Guidance to F-1 International Students

Please note that this guidance is based on the information provided in the July 6, 2020 Broadcast Message from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and is subject to change should further guidance be provided.


Undergraduate F-1 Students

Based on UWF’s current plan for a hybrid model of instruction for the 2020 fall semester, undergraduate F-1 students, in order to maintain their status while in the US, must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours.  Of these 12 credit hours, the student must take all of the available face-to-face or hybrid classes offered that will count towards the degree program.  SEVP requires F-1 international students to take these classes and make normal progress toward completing the degree program.  A student cannot maintain his or her F-1 status while enrolled completely in online classes . 

If Fall 2020 is the student’s final semester, the student is able to drop below 12 credit hours if they enroll in all the courses needed to graduate. At least one course must be face-to-face or hybrid.

Graduate F-1 Students

Based on UWF’s current plan for a hybrid model of instruction for the 2020 fall semester, graduate F-1 students, in order to maintain their status while in the US, must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours. Of these 6 credit hours, the student must take all of the available face-to-face or hybrid classes offered that will count towards your degree program.  SEVP requires F-1 international students to take these classes and make normal progress toward completing your degree program. A student cannot maintain his or her F-1 status while enrolled completely in online classes . 

If Fall 2020 is the student’s final semester, the student is able to drop below 6 credit hours if they enroll in all the courses needed to graduate. At least one course must be face-to-face or hybrid.

Additional Guidance

  • F-1 students may not be enrolled completely in online courses and maintain their status.  If a student elects to be completely online he or she will have their SEVIS record terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal regardless of whether they are inside or outside the US. Students should then depart the US within 15 days to avoid accruing unlawful presence in the US. If a student is able to return to the US to study in person within 5 months from the Authorized Early Withdrawal (January 2021), the SEVIS record may be reactivated with the same SEVIS ID and an updated I-20 form will be created for the student to return to the US.
  • F-1 students must take the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in his or her degree program.
  • F-1 students must be in at least one face-to-face class to study in the US in person.
  • The following course types are considered face-to-face courses:
    • Primarily Classroom Course (CL)
    • Hybrid Course (HB)
    • Primarily Distance Learning Course (PD)
  • Should UWF change its reopening plan to adopt a fully online environment prior to the start of the fall semester, UWF will be subject to the SEVP guidance for schools who have adopted a “fully online” mode of instruction and students will not be able to remain in the US in active F-1 status.  These students may depart their US and maintain their F-1 status by enrolling full-time online so long as they are able to meet the normal full course of study requirements.
  • UWF advisors are asked to work closely with F-1 students to find alternative courses, as needed.

Identification of F-1 International Students

To identify students who are considered F-1 international students, one may use the following options:

In Navigate, F-1 students have the category: Visa:F1 Student Visa.

List of categories in Navigate


In Banner, use the Visa Type field in the GOAINTL form.  


Visa Type field in the GOAINTL form


There is also a Tableau report, All International Students, which can be filtered by term, enrollment status and visa type.

Other Considerations

  • UWF must update SEVP with its official operational plans by August 1, 2020
  • New Form I-20s must be issued to all F-1 students by UWF International Programs prior to August 4, 2020.
  • Additional FAQS and information specific to international students are updated regularly on our International Programs Updates for COVID 19 page.  
  • Travel restrictions for foreign nationals traveling to the US are being updated regularly.  Current travel restrictions and other resources for international students can be found on our Resources for International Students: COVID 19 page
  • US Embassy and Consulate in-person interviews are required for Initial F-1 Students to obtain an F-1 visa in their passport.  At this time, many of these locations are not fully operational meaning that students may not be able to obtain their F-1 visa for entry into the US prior to the start date for Fall 2020. 
  • International students may reach out to UWF International Programs staff at any time for virtual advising. 
    • In Navigate, schedule an advising appointment for immigration advising.
    • Phone - 850-474-2479
    • Email - international@uwf.edu


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