Immigration

Planning for Fall 2021

(Updated April 30, 2021) 

The US State Department has announced National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for students with approved or valid F-1 visa stamps from India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Schengen (Europe) Area.  Students with valid F-1 visa stamps do not need special permission to travel back to the US. Therefore, students from these countries who have been stuck back home can begin to make their plans to return to USF for study in the Fall.  We hope that US Embassies and Consulates across the globe will fully open and prioritize student visa processing in the near future for students who need a visa stamp.

SEVP confirmed, on April 26, 2021, that the guidance they issued in March 2020 would apply for the 2021/2022 Academic Year.   ​This guidance allows F-1 students at schools still operating with temporary measures to be exempt from online course mode limitations.  As the university works towards adding more in-person courses and fewer restrictions for Fall 2021, we are still operating with temporary measures as outlined in the return to campus plan.  For information on what USF is doing to stop the spread, please visit: https://www.usf.edu/coronavirus/

We have updated our advice for Fall 2021 below.

FALL 2021  

F-1 Students Continuing Their Studies at USF

  • We encourage you to make plans to travel back to the US and to your USF campus in time to begin classes for Fall 2021.
    • If you are outside the US, you need a valid passport, valid F-1 visa stamp, and most recent I-20 with a travel signature on page 2 for the return. A travel signature is good for one year from the date it was initially signed.
    • If you do not have a travel signature or it is expired, you can request a new one by completing the travel signature request on iStart.
  • You must register full-time.
    • Graduate students = 9 hours
    • Undergraduate students = 12 hours
  • You may select ANY combination of course delivery modes for your Fall 2021 schedule.
  • You must obtain health insurance that meets Florida requirements.
  • Continuing F-1 students include students changing levels ex. Pathway to Degree, Bachelor to Master, or Master to PhD.


NOTE: If you are not able to travel or are unable to come to the US, you can maintain F-1 status while studying outside the US.  You do not need to contact us since we will keep your F-1 status in official university records.

  • See SHS for any process to waive US health insurance.
  • You need to work with your academic department to find appropriate online course options.  There is not the same full range of options for fall.
  • You cannot remain employed if you are in ANY on-campus position including GA/TA/RA’s.
  • If you cannot be full-time, you can seek an AEW in iStart.  Doing this means you may need to pay the SEVIS fee again and will lose eligibility towards CPT (internships) and OPT.

New F-1 Students Beginning Their Studies or New Program at USF

  • You should arrive to the US and your USF campus no later than the first week of the semester to your their program at USF. You cannot arrive late. 
  • You must register full-time.
    • Graduate students = 9 hours
    • Undergraduate students = 12 hours
  • You must select at least ONE in-person courses categorized as classroom (CL) or hybrid (HB) delivery.
  • You must obtain health insurance that meets Florida requirements.

NOTE: If you have travel or visa delays and are unable to come to the US, send an email to immigrationprocessing@usf.edu so we can change your status to studying outside the US for Fall 2021.  

  • You would not need to have US health insurance.
  • You would need to work with your academic department to find appropriate online course options. 
  • You would be provided with an I-20 for Spring 2022.
  • You would NOT begin to accrue time towards eligibility for internships (CPT) or work following graduation (OPT).  This means eligibility for these options would be in Spring 2023.

New Students Transferring F-1 Status from Another US School to USF

  • You should arrive to your USF campus no later than the first week of the semester to begin your program at USF. You cannot arrive late.
  • You must register full-time.
    • Graduate students = 9 hours
    • Undergraduate students = 12 hours
  • You must select at least ONE in-person courses categorized as classroom (CL) or hybrid (HB) delivery.
  • You must obtain health insurance that meets Florida requirements.

NOTE: If you have travel or visa delays and are unable to come to the US, send an email to immigrationprocessing@usf.edu so we can change your status to studying outside the US for Fall 2021.  

  • You would not need to have US health insurance.
  • You would need to work with your academic department to find appropriate online course options. 
  • You would be provided with an I-20 for Spring 2022. It is possible you will need to pay the SEVIS fee again since reactivating your I-20 is not guaranteed.
  • You would NOT accrue time towards eligibility for internships (CPT) or work following graduation (OPT).  This means eligibility for these options would be in Spring 2023.

Additional Resources

See the international student FAQs for more answers to detailed questions.

Students wishing to meet with an immigration advisor should complete the Request Advisor Appointment E-Form in iStart. An advisor will arrange a remote appointment at the student’s convenience (any time zone).