Global Programs Office

Message of Support to Our International Students

“We are aware of your concerns and understand the frustrations resulting from the recent broadcast message from Students and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP) dated July 6, 2020 and the Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about the Fall 2020 guidance subsequently released on July 7, 2020. Our SEVP’s Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) in the Global Programs Office, Ana Suek, is monitoring this situation closely while continuously providing individual guidance to our international students and the rest of the SFAI community.”

“In their communication, SEVP stated, ‘Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding the online study policy for the 2020 spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted F and M students to take more online courses than normally allowed for purposes of maintaining a full course of study to maintain their F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.’ SEVP intends to eliminate this temporary exemption for the Fall 2020 semester and orders institutions to operate under the traditional in-person class system or adopt a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in-person classes. Institutions operating entirely online may not enroll F-1 and M-1 students in a full online course load. ‘Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person or hybrid instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.’”

“This new guidance from SEVP, an umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, creates chaos and causes an obstruction of the educational path for the over one million international students enrolled at institutions across the U.S. The guidance may also have the effect of weakening American higher education as well as leaving an economic disruption in the U.S.”

“We continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our international students to provide the necessary support they need to successfully engage in full-time study, and forcefully oppose the intent of this announcement and its inevitable negative impact on the U.S. and our students.”

“Presently, SFAI is planning to extend the summer teach-out for currently enrolled students only through the fall 2020 semester. We will explore hybrid-flexible options to protect our international students from the harmful effects of the new rule, as we earnestly oppose this divisive approach. The Global Programs Office continues to seek clarifications from SEVP and to advocate for international education.”

For our international students who are not enrolled in the summer teach-out, we strongly encourage them to complete the transfer of their SEVIS record to another institution before August 31, 2020. Ana is currently working with this cohort. International students currently on OPT are not impacted by newly released SEVP guidance.”

“Ana will have a Zoom session on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at noon, for international students and alumni to provide further information about the SEVP ruling and to answer students’ questions. Some of the topics that will be addressed include:

  • SEVP regulations on the type of employment during OPT;
  • SEVP potential changes to COVID-19 guidelines and what impact it may have to SFAI’s international students;
  • Any updates on a Fall teach-out program; and
  • Time for Q&A.”

“Ana will continue to be available for individual inquiries as well: As much as we vehemently disagree with the proposed plans by SEVP to eliminate the guidelines for international students to enroll in a full-course load solely online for fall 2020, SFAI will do everything possible to provide a safe classroom environment, virtually and/or in-person, following CDC and SF health guidelines and SEVP guidelines to enroll international students.”

The Global Programs Office is your resource to navigate the rules and regulations related to international student immigration status for F-1 student and J-1 participant visa holders. We are here to support you throughout your experience at SFAI, and welcome questions about any aspect of student life.

For questions or issues, please email the Global Programs Office to make an appointment.

F-1 Student Visa Holders

There are several U.S. government agencies responsible for maintenance of F-1 student visa status. The Study in the States website is your official U.S. government access point for all agencies involved with international student regulations and policy administration. It is the best resource for anything related to maintaining F-1 student visa status.

For specific SFAI policy information and international student requirements, please review the SFAI International Student Handbook.

J-1 Participant Visa Holders

SFAI J-1 participant visas are sponsored through the Institute of International Education (IIE), and an advisor from the IIE San Francisco office is assigned to our students.

Detailed information for J-1 participants may be found at the J-1 Visa Participants website.

SFAI has authorization under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students.