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One World, One Emerson International Student Options

Dear Emerson International Students,

On behalf of Emerson College and the Office of Internationalization & Global Engagement (IGE), I hope this message finds you safe and doing well amid the dynamic changes taking place in our world.

First, I want to thank the many students and families who reached out to offices across campus to inquire about how the Fall 2020 term will accommodate and address the various unique challenges/concerns of our diverse population of international students. Your thoughts were heard and welcomed as we navigate the intricacies of offering you multiple study options.

Emerson is pleased to confirm the establishment of a number of study options for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester known as “One World, One Emerson.” These options include a diverse set of programs for returning international sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

We encourage you to select the most applicable Fall 2020 study option from the following:

  1. Enrollment in a suite of online, liberal arts courses offered as part of One Emerson Flex Learning.
  2. “In-person” direct enrollment in courses on the campus of one of Emerson’s global partner institutions:
    United International College (Zhuhai, China)
    CAPA London Academic Center (London, UK)
    Franklin University (Lugano, Switzerland)
    Paris College of Art (Paris, France)
    Blanquerna School of Communication & International Relations (Barcelona, Spain)

If you are interested in online courses through One Emerson Flex Learning, you are encouraged to complete a request form through the Office of Student Success. You will receive outreach within a few days of submitting your request from a staff member outlining what the next steps will be for you. Requests that are submitted on or before July 12, 2020 at 11:59 pm EST will be given priority consideration. Requests will be accepted after July 12, but may have fewer options or not be able to be approved. Students with questions may contact the Office of Student Success at

Please note that online course options may be limited and will likely require some adjustment to your current course registration for the fall. In addition, the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) is awaiting clarification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) as to whether online only learning will allow students to retain an “active” SEVIS immigration record in Fall 2020. Clarification is expected on this matter soon and will be posted on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s SEVP FAQ page.

All courses taken at global partner institutions in Fall 2020 will be accepted by Emerson for credit. Students will be billed tuition through Emerson for all global partner options. Payment deadlines will remain the same as Boston-based students. Students will pay each global partner directly for housing, with the exception of CAPA London. Each global partner represents an institution committed to the same mission and values of Emerson and Emerson students, and I am confident that all options will deliver a supportive, diverse, and engaging learning environment.

To learn more about each global partner option, including an overview of specific courses, housing arrangements, student visa requirements, and program dates, please review the One World, One Emerson document and consider an option based on your individual circumstances. Additionally, it is important to note that these offerings will only be available to students for the Fall 2020 semester.

In addition, Emerson will host informational webinars regarding each global partner option. A webinar schedule will be provided as soon as possible.

To express your intent to participate in one of the global partner options, we ask that you complete the intent form on or before July 12, 2020, for all options, with the exception of United International College (China), which needs to be completed by July 6, 2020. Space available with partner programs may be limited and students will be given priority based on their order of response. You will receive more detailed information about your chosen option once you make your selection and will be guided through the enrollment process thereafter.

Immigration Considerations for U.S. F-1 Student Visa Holders

It is important to acknowledge that participation in either online study or “in-person” enrollment at one of Emerson’s global partners has the potential to impact your U.S. immigration status. Please be aware of the following as you consider your study options:

Is online-only study allowed in F-1 status? Emerson College, along with all other U.S. institutions, is currently awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding Fall 2020 allowances for F-1 students, including whether they can continue to take online courses and continually maintain their SEVIS immigration status in Fall 2020. Clarification is expected on this matter soon and will be posted on ICE’s SEVP FAQ page.

Will my SEVIS record be interrupted if I am out of the U.S. for more than five months? Students who remain enrolled out of the U.S. (either online or through a partner institution) for a period of more than five months may need to interrupt their SEVIS immigration record, pending clarification from SEVP.

Am I eligible to matriculate at a partner institution if Fall 2020 is my last semester of study at Emerson? Partner programs may not be well suited for students in their final semester of study who plan to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the U.S. For students planning to matriculate Fall 2020 at a partner institution whose academic calendar goes beyond December 30, 2020, degree conferral will be pushed back to May 2021. This may impact your eligibility to apply for OPT since 1) you must be in the U.S. to apply for OPT, 2) you cannot enter the U.S. after completion of your degree, and 3) you must usually be enrolled in the semester in which you will be granted your degree.

If I matriculate at a partner institution outside my home country, can I apply for my U.S. visa before Spring 2021? If you intend to apply for a U.S. visa to attend Emerson in Spring 2021 and opt to attend a partner institution outside of your home country, you may still be able to apply for your U.S. visa in your country of temporary study, but may be subject to review of your “non-immigrant intent” if you have spent a significant amount of time outside of your country of citizenship.

If I cannot return to the U.S. and prefer not to study online or at a partner institution, can I take a leave of absence for Fall 2020? Although you have the option of requesting a temporary leave of absence through the Office of Student Success, please be aware that this action would interrupt your continuous SEVIS immigration status. After your approved leave, you would need to 1) request a new “initial” I-20 to return to the U.S., which would require you to 2) pay a new I-901 SEVIS Fee, and 3) apply for a new F-1 visa, if needed. IMPORTANT NOTE: Taking a leave of absence near the end of your program might impact your U.S. work permission as you will need to be enrolled for two full semesters after your return in order to qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Can I begin an on-campus job if I am out of the U.S.? If you are a new or returning student who has never worked in the U.S., you may not be able to begin new U.S. employment (on campus or for a U.S. internship) since physical presence in the U.S. is required to apply for a U.S. Social Security Number and document U.S. work permission to complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification.

Again, we strongly encourage you to review each option and the immigration considerations above in order to determine the most appropriate pathway forward in light of your unique individual circumstances.

Please reach out to these Emerson staff members with any follow-up questions:

  • Enrolling in a global partner option — Corey Blackmar, Associate Director of Internationalization Initiatives, at
  • Participating in online courses through One Emerson Flex Learning — Office of Student Success at
  • Participating in the previously communicated “Early Re-Entry” program in Boston — Jason Yang, International Studies Advisor, at
  • Visa and Immigration Questions — Andrea Popa, Director of International Student Affairs, at or

In closing, we thank you for your patience as we worked to solidify the referenced Fall 2020 study options with our international students in mind. It is our sincere hope that you will be able to capitalize on one of the above-referenced opportunities.

Be well, and we look forward to seeing you flourish as Emerson students — wherever you may be.

Dr. Anthony L. Pinder
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs — Internationalization & Global Engagement

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