Distance Learning / Online Course Policy for F-1 International Student

F-1, International Student, Immigration, Foreign Student, US Visa, Visas, I-94

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The Department of Homeland Security requires F-1 students to maintain a full course of study and that the course of study must lead to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. A full course of study is defined as: 12 credit hours for undergraduate and 8 credit hours for graduate including Ph.D. students.

F-1 students who are taking online or distance learning classes that do not require him/her to be physically present on campus for an exam, class meeting or other purposes relating to the class can count only one online/distance learning class or three credits of online/distance learning per semester toward the full course of study requirement.

For example: An undergraduate student is taking 6 credits of on-campus classes and 6 credits of online courses that do not require him/her to meet on campus. In this example, only 9 credits (6 credits of on-campus classes plus 3 credits of an online course) will count toward his/her full course of study, which will make the student less than full time without authorization, which violates the full course of study requirement. When a student violates the full course of study requirement s/he has lost her/his F-1 status and will have to apply for reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security.

Using the same example, if a graduate student is taking 4 credits of on-campus classes and one 4 credit online/distance learning class that requires a physical presence on campus at least twice within the semester for an exam, class or meeting the online or distance learning course is considered an on-campus class and the student is considered full time.

The key to this rule is “physical presence on campus;” which falls in line with the regulations governing F-1 students.

Failure to comply with these regulations [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G)] will be a violation of the student’s F-1 status and may jeopardize his/her student status.

  • The student must report in person to the professor of the specified online course no less than two times within that given semester.
  • The student must obtain signature from his/her professor after each meeting.
  • The student must obtain initial acknowledgement at the beginning of the semester and final approval at the end of the semester from an adviser at Office of International Students and Scholars.

Do you have any questions regarding your F-1 Visa?

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JCS Immigration office is located at
2975 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 352 in Los Angeles, California 90010
Office hours are Monday to Saturday from 9:00AM to 9:00PM

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