New Guidance for SEVP on F-1 Student Status [for New International Students]

This email was sent to all new incoming international students from Anna Jablonski, assistant vice president of Enrollment and associate provost for Student Success, regarding the newly issued SEVP guidelines.

Hello Again International CalArtian,

Today we received the much anticipated guidance from SEVP regarding the status of F-1 students enrolled in online coursework for the fall semester:

  • Continuing F-1 students can maintain F-1 status by enrolling in a full-time courseload of online, in-person, or hybrid courses. Fully online is okay. Fully in person is okay. Any combination of online, in-person, and hybrid is okay, as long as you are full-time.
  • You can enroll completely online and maintain F-1 status, whether you are located within the U.S. or outside the U.S.
  • If you plan to remain outside of the U.S. for fall, you must report your non-U.S. address to us to ensure that your I-20 remarks section notes “Outside the U.S. due to COVID-19.”  You can travel in and out of the U.S. if you have a valid visa. You can renew your visa as long as you were in good F-1 status during spring semester.
  • If you are returning from a leave of absence, please check with the International Students and Programs Office to understand any details that may apply to you differently.

If you are a J-1 student, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the EVP update for Fall 2020. Please contact the U.S. embassy or consulate regarding the national interest exemption if you are traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland.

We did learn this week that some embassies and consulates have started to issue visas, and also that some travel restrictions for F-1 students are being exempted, so the picture is now somewhat more optimistic for obtaining a visa and entering the U.S. than earlier this summer. If you need to renew your visa, please email the ISP Office so we can add the appropriate certification remarks on your I-20 to help make this process go more smoothly for you.

As you make your travel plans, please keep in mind that U.S. government agencies are not yet in alignment right now. We recommend waiting at least one to two weeks before flying into the U.S. to reduce the risk of getting stopped at the border by an agent who has not received updated guidance.

Please also keep in mind that COVID-19 cases in California have been on the rise, and schools in Los Angeles County (where CalArts is located) have not yet been cleared by the state health department to open to students this fall. This means it is possible that our campus will not open on September 14. We will update you immediately once we receive additional news from the state and county regarding our ability to open our campus to students.

We understand that this leaves open a lot of uncertainty. If you would like to enroll online, most programs will have sufficient course offerings available for you to do this. If you are unsure whether your program can accommodate fully online enrollment, please reach out to your Program Director, or to Academic Advising ( Programs are continuing to modify their schedules and the ability to enroll full time online may soon become available. 

If you don’t think you can make it to campus, and you don’t want to enroll online, you can request to take a leave of absence. While you are on leave, you will not maintain F-1 status. If you are approved to take a leave only for the fall semester, it is possible to have your F-1 status reactivated and have fall count toward CPT/OPT eligibility. This is not an option if you take a leave for two semesters. In either case, if you have an institutional scholarship, it will be the same when you re-enroll. We recommend that you speak with a member of the ISP staff (, Academic Advising (, or the Registrar’s Office ( prior to deciding on your leave.

If you have any questions about your status as an international student this fall, please plan to join one of our zoom meetings at the times listed below to discuss current concerns, or our daily walk-in hour.

International Office Q&A Zoom Room

  • Tuesday, July 28th, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Thursday, July 30th, 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Daily International Office Zoom Walk-In Hour

  • Monday through Friday, 2pm-3pm Pacific Time

We are happy to provide whatever support and guidance you need as you make your final plans for fall semester. As you think through your options, please let us know your tentative plan for fall, and the ISP Office will follow up with an email detailing what to do next. And please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the other Student Success Offices listed below with any questions you may have about your enrollment at CalArts this fall.

Anna Jablonski

Assistant Vice President of Enrollment
and Associate Provost for Student Success
CalArts Office of Student Success

Contact Us!
for questions about degree progress and course requirements
for questions about international student resources
for questions about financial aid and scholarships
for questions about student records and class signup