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F-1 Limits to Online Study for Summer Graduates 

If you are an international student completing your final classes this summer and planning to graduate from Emerson in August 2024, please pay careful attention to F-1 immigration specifications about summer study, study in your final semester, and the limits to online study. 

Your permission for online study is limited as follows:

  • You may enroll in no more than one class per semester of online or distance education study counting toward your full course of study requirement.
  • You cannot be enrolled in 100 percent online study. If you only need one class to complete your degree, you cannot enroll in only an online class, but must take at least one in-person class to anchor your legal status in the U.S.

As a student graduating in summer please also note:

  • Although summer can be a “vacation” term with optional study for students who will continue study in the fall term, summer is a “required” semester if you will graduate in August.
  • If summer is your final semester of study and you need less than full-time coursework to complete your degree, you do not need to enroll full-time but must request a SEVIS Authorized Reduced Course Load for Final Term via your Terra Dotta account. 

We have prepared answers to a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below. If you have follow up questions, please make an appointment with your OISA advisor or come to our weekly walk-in hours (Monday/Wednesday / Thursday, 1:00-2:00 pm) so that we can review your situation in greater detail. 

Your OISA immigration advising team,
Andrea Popa | Director, International Student Affairs
Max Crumley-Effinger | Assistant Director, International Student Affairs
Keke Li | International Student Advisor, International Student Affairs 


Frequently Asked Questions About Online Study for International Students (F-1 Status)

What counts as “full-time” study for international students? 

If you are an undergraduate student, you must enroll in a minimum of 12 credits each required term. If you are a graduate student, you must enroll in a minimum of 8 credits or thesis each required term. You may request an Authorized Reduced Course Load in limited circumstances for academic or medical reasons, or in your final semester of study.

What if I am in my final semester of study? 

If it is your final semester of study and you need less than full-time enrollment to complete your final degree requirements, you can request an Authorized Reduced Course Load via Terra Dotta. If your reduced course load is authorized, you are only required to enroll in the classes necessary to complete your degree. However, you cannot enroll in online-only study. 

When can I take more than one online course?

During semesters of required study (including summer, when it is your final semester), you may enroll in more than one online class if the additional online classes earn you credits beyond the minimum credit count for your full-time enrollment requirement. 

For example: As an undergraduate student, you could take two classes (8 credits) of in-person study, and one class (4 credits) of online study to meet your 12-credit minimum, and could then take an additional online class beyond the minimum. 

As a graduate student, you could take one class (4 credits) of in-person study and one class (4 credits) of online study to meet your 8-credit minimum, and could then take an additional online class beyond the minimum.

Can I study 100 percent online if summer is a “vacation” semester?

If you are eligible to and intend to continue your program of study at Emerson in the fall semester, you can count summer as your annual “vacation” semester. In this case, you are not required to register for summer classes, but you may choose to enroll in classes if you wish. Since summer registration is optional, you can enroll in online-only study. (Note: Eligibility for continued study includes academic good standing and maintenance of lawful immigration status.)

What counts as a summer semester if Emerson has two summer terms?

Although Emerson has two summer “terms,” both terms together are one semester. Students can register for classes in either Summer I or Summer II, or a course that spans both terms. 

Can I study 100 percent online if I am out of the U.S.?

The limits to online study apply to students who wish to maintain legal F-1 immigration status in the U.S., including those who plan to remain in the U.S., apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), or transfer your SEVIS record to move to another degree of study. If you wish to finish your last degree requirements from abroad, and do not intend to return to the U.S., you can opt to enroll in online-only classes, but will not then be eligible to apply for F-1 benefits such as OPT. If you will finish your degree abroad, please contact OISA at with a request to end your SEVIS record and your F-1 status. 

When did the SEVIS COVID flexibility change? 

Although the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allowed additional flexibility related to online study during the pandemic, these flexibilities ended effective Fall 2023, falling back to pre-COVID regulations related to the limits of online study.

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