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Summer Graduates: F1 Limits on Online-Only Study

If you will complete your final classes this summer and plan to graduate from Emerson in August 2023, please pay careful attention to the limits related to online study in order to remain in lawful F-1 student status. 

If you are an international student in F-1 status graduating in August 2023, you are not eligible for study that is 100 percent online, and must enroll in at least one course that will anchor your lawful F-1 status. 

Summer as vacation vs. Summer as final term 

Students who are enrolled during the summer, but who are eligible to and intend to continue study in the fall term, can count summer as a “vacation” semester, with no requirement to register for classes. In this case, students may elect to enroll in online-only study, as no study is required. 

However, for students completing a degree program in the summer, summer becomes a “required” semester for the degree, and registration must follow F-1 regulatory requirements for study, including limits to online study.

Limits to online study for August graduates 

Although the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allowed some flexibility for online-only study during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Emerson College resumed study modalities that are primarily on-campus for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Since COVID-19 flexibilities have now ended, students in F-1 status cannot take more than one online class in a required semester towards their full-time enrollment minimums, and cannot enroll in study that is 100 percent online. 

Summer enrollment alternatives

Please plan your summer enrollment carefully to make certain your summer registration includes on-campus participation (or registration that is coded as “non-traditional”) to support and anchor your F-1 status. 


  • Please discuss with your academic department whether there are any additional non-online classes in which you may be able to enroll. 

“Non-online” classes may include: 

  • Traditional (TR) courses with required in-person teaching
  • Non-traditional (NT) courses, such as thesis or internship registration, or
  • Flex (F) courses that require some in-person study 

Courses that may suffice to anchor your status that are in-person/on-campus or U.S. based: 

  • A course that requires in-person course participation 
  • An internship course for a U.S.-based experience (499 courses, PDE 100, CDE 100) 
  • Registration for thesis completion or a capstone project 
  • If you are approved to extend your program end date to fall, summer registration would then become optional and you would then need to enroll in in-person courses for fall study.
  • If you are currently out of the U.S. with no plan to reenter before your program end date, we can end your SEVIS record for “authorized early withdrawal” and you can complete your degree outside of the U.S. without F-1 status. If you elect this option, you will not then not be able to return to the U.S. for this degree program, and will not be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

If you have questions about your immigration options, please set up an appointment with your OISA advisor or come to our weekly walk-in hours (Monday/Wednesday / Thursday, 1:00-2:00 pm). 

Your International Student Affairs SEVIS advising team,
Andrea Popa | Director, International Student Affairs
Max Crumley-Effinger | Director, International Student Affairs

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