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International Students

Important Information for International Students

Updated July 20, 2020

Updated Guidance for International Students/ICE

On July 15, the federal government rescinded its July 6 guidance in regard to temporary procedures for colleges and universities to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the current guidance has reverted back to the guidance that was published in March 2020.

The procedures all colleges and universities must follow remain “temporary” during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the federal government may change them at any time—reverting to the prepandemic standard procedures or introducing new procedures. SDSU and OIA will do everything to support international students during this extraordinary time, and we encourage students to reach out to OIA at SDSU.IntlStud@sdstate.edu or 605-688-4122.

The OIA is providing each group of students with the following updated guidance:

Current SDSU International Students:

  1. Students in the United States are not restricted to the number of online courses they can take. SDSU will be operating in a hybrid model that will be providing face-to-face, hybrid and online courses.
  2. Students should consult with their academic advisors to confirm the location of their classes and monitor for any changes.
    • When possible, students are encouraged to take face-to-face or hybrid courses, if there is a choice between online and on-campus courses.
    • Hybrid courses requiring students’ physical presence for a percentage of class time qualify as “on campus.”
    • Students may enroll in online courses for the fall 2020 semester, as long as the classes count toward their degree requirements (including “total credits,” “major and minor credits” and “general education requirements”). Please note: undergraduate students must have a minimum of 12 credit hours, graduate students without assistantships must have a minimum of 9 credit hours, and graduate students with assistantships must have the minimum number of credit hours that corresponds to the size of their assistantships to maintain full-time student status.
  3. Students whose class schedules are entirely “online” must report this to the Office of International Affairs, along with their current address/location so we can adjust their SEVIS record accordingly.
  4. For graduate students, thesis/dissertation credits are designated as “on campus” classes, and graduate students should work with the Graduate School and their academic advisors to ensure they are registered appropriately.
  5. Should there be a change in the pandemic that forces SDSU to go completely into “online-only” delivery mode, students will be able to complete their classes online for the semester without being required to return home.  Students who choose to return home will be able to return to the United States after the pandemic has eased and the SDSU campus is open again for normal operations.
  6. Students currently outside the U.S. can continue to take their courses online and their SEVIS records will remain active for the fall 2020 semester.

New SDSU International Students Beginning New Degree Programs:

  1. Students should continue to monitor the status of their nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to determine if visa applications will be processed.
  2. Students able to obtain visas should make every effort to join us for the fall 2020 semester and take classes the same as any other international student on our campus.
  3. Students unable to secure a visa may take SDSU classes online.
    • These students should work toward obtaining a visa during the fall 2020 semester so that they can join us in spring 2021.
  4. Students may defer their start dates to spring 2021 or fall 2021, should they choose.

Transfer SDSU International Students Completing Degree Programs:

  1. Transfer students currently in the United States are not restricted to the number of online courses they can take. SDSU will be operating in a hybrid model that will be providing face-to-face, hybrid and online courses.
  2. New transfer students coming to the U.S. from international institutions who are unable to join us for the fall 2020 semester can take SDSU classes online.
  3. Students should consult with their academic advisors to confirm the location of their classes and monitor for any changes.
    • When possible, students are encouraged to take face-to-face or hybrid courses if there is a choice between online and on-campus courses.
    • Hybrid courses requiring students’ physical presence for a percentage of class time qualify as “on campus.”
    • Students may enroll in online courses for the fall semester, as long as the classes count toward their degree requirements (including “total credits,” “major and minor credits” and “general education requirements”). Please note: undergraduate students must have a minimum of 12 credit hours, graduate students without assistantships must have a minimum of 9 credit hours, and graduate students with assistantships must have the minimum number of credit hours that corresponds to the size of their assistantships to maintain full-time student status.
  4. Students whose class schedules are entirely “online” must report this to the Office of International Affairs, along with their current address/location so we can adjust their SEVIS record accordingly.
  5. For graduate students, thesis/dissertation credits are designated as “on campus” classes, and graduate students should work with the Graduate School and their academic advisors to ensure they are registered appropriately.
  6. Should there be a change in the pandemic that forces SDSU to go completely into “online-only” delivery mode, students will be able to complete their classes online for the semester without being required to return home. Students who choose to return home will be able to return to the United States after the pandemic has eased and the SDSU campus is open again for normal operations.

Additional Communications

Guidance for International Students/ICE - July 10, 2020

On July 6, the federal government issued a modification of its temporary procedures for colleges and universities to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the procedures have potential impacts on international students currently studying OR beginning their studies in the United States. SDSU and its Office of International Affairs (OIA) continue to discuss the modification and provide students with steps to follow.

The procedures all colleges and universities must follow remain “temporary” during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that the federal government may change them at any time—reverting to the pre-pandemic standard procedures or introducing new procedures as it sees fit. SDSU and OIA will do everything to support international students during this extraordinary time, and we encourage students to reach out to OIA at SDSU.IntlStud@sdstate.edu or 605-688-4122.

The OIA is providing each group of students with the following guidance:

Current SDSU International Students:

Students in the United States must return to their SDSU campus and be physically present in South Dakota at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. Students should consult with their academic advisors to confirm the location of their classes and monitor for any changes.

  • Students need to be enrolled in at least one class where their physical presence in person is required—you will hear the term “on campus” or “face-to-face” instruction used.
  •  When possible, students are encouraged to take face-to-face or hybrid courses if there is a choice between online and on-campus courses.
  • Hybrid courses requiring students’ physical presence for a percentage of class time qualify as “on campus.”
  •  Students may enroll in online courses for the rest of their class schedule, as long as the classes count toward their degree requirements (including “total credits,” “major and minor credits” and “general education requirements”). Please note: undergraduate students must have a minimum of 12 credit hours, graduate students without assistantships must have a minimum of 9 credit hours, and graduate students with assistantships must have the minimum number of credit hours that corresponds to the size of their assistantships to maintain full-time student status.

Students whose class schedules are entirely “online” should work with their academic advisors to add a course that qualifies as “on campus” or they must return home. For graduate students, thesis/dissertation credits are designated as “on campus” classes, and graduate students should work with the Graduate School and their academic advisors to ensure they are registered appropriately.

 

Transfer SDSU International Students Completing Degree Programs:

Transfer students currently in the United States must be physically present in South Dakota at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester in August in South Dakota. New transfer students coming to the U.S. from international institutions who are unable to join us for fall 2020 semester can take SDSU classes online. Students should consult with their academic advisors to confirm the location of their classes and monitor for any changes.

  • Students need to be enrolled in at least one class where their physical presence in person is required—you will hear the term “on campus” or “face-to-face” instruction used.
  • When possible, students are encouraged to take face-to-face or hybrid courses if there is a choice between online and on-campus courses.
  • Hybrid courses requiring students’ physical presence for a percentage of class time qualify as “on campus.”
  • Students may enroll in online courses for the rest of their class schedule, as long as the classes count toward their degree requirements (including “total credits,” “major and minor credits” and “general education requirements”).

Students whose class schedules are entirely “online” should work with their academic advisors to add a course that qualifies as “on campus” or they must return home. For graduate students, thesis/dissertation credits are designated as “on campus” classes, and graduate students should work with the Graduate School and their academic advisors to ensure they are registered appropriately. Should there be a change in the pandemic that forces SDSU to go completely into “online-only” delivery mode, the federal government will direct F-1 and J-1 students to leave the United States and return to their home countries to complete their classes online for the semester. Students would then be able to return to the United States after the pandemic eased and the SDSU campus was open again for normal operations.

New SDSU International Students Beginning New Degree Programs:

Students should continue to monitor the status of their nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to determine if visa applications will be processed. Students able to obtain visas should make every effort to join us for the fall 2020 semester and take classes on campus. Students unable to secure a visa may take SDSU classes online.

  • These students should work toward obtaining a visa during the fall 2020 semester so that they can join us in spring 2021.

Students may defer their start dates to spring 2021 or fall 2021, should they choose.

  • Should there be a change in the pandemic that forces SDSU to go completely into “online-only” delivery mode, the federal government will direct F-1 and J-1 students to leave the United States and return to their home countries to complete their classes online for the semester. Students would then be able to return to the United States after the pandemic eased and the SDSU campus was open again for normal operations.

 

SEVP Guidance on COVID-19: Fall 2020 - July 9, 2020

Hello from the Office of International Affairs!

We know that most of you are aware of the SEVP Guidance that was publicized on Monday July 6. We want to make sure that you know that we are working on figuring out what this means. It is a bit of a moving target, and we are not certain that this will be the final guidance that is given by SEVP. We are hoping that this guidance is amended in the near future due to the pushback that SEVP and the Department of State are getting from universities across the U.S.

What this guidance currently means for our SDSU international students: 

SDSU will be operating in a hybrid model this fall (a mixture of online and in person classes). In this model, the U.S. government guidance indicates that international students present in the U.S. are allowed to take more than one online class or 3 online credit hours, but they cannot have all of their courses be online. There must be a face-to-face course within the mix, and we have to certify that the student is taking the minimum number of online credits necessary to make normal progress in their degree program. (Essentially, if there is a choice between face-to-face or online, students must take the face-to-face option.)  

At the present moment, if SDSU were to convert to completely online at any point in the semester, then all of our current international students would need to go home. (Again, we are currently hoping that, with enough pushback from the schools, this guidance will change.)

We will be in the process of updating I-20s and sending electronic copies to our students via email shortly. The updated I-20 will indicate the following: 

"SDSU will not operate entirely online. The student will not take an entirely online course load for fall 2020 and will take the min. number of online courses to make normal progress in program."

As new information is available we will continue to do our best to keep you informed. While we understand that this guidance is not supportive of you as an international student, please know that we care about each and every one of you and we are doing our best to advocate on your behalf.  

At SDSU, you ARE welcome here. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Office of International Affairs Staff

Attention International Students and Families - June 17, 2020

South Dakota State University plans to re-open its campus for students registered for courses in the fall 2020 semester. Classes are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, and the last week of classes will take place in the fourth week of November 2020. Examinations for the semester will be administered online/remotely during the first week of December 2020, and we expect the spring 2021 semester to begin as scheduled on Monday, January 11, 2021.

We understand that some SDSU students may not feel comfortable with a return to face-to-face instruction on campus, and we will allow students to take online classes if available in the fall 2020 semester and maintain their status as degree-seeking students at the university. This opportunity exists for domestic and international students, wherever they happen to be in the world. Please note: all classes available on campus may not be available in the online delivery format, and students seeking to remain off campus will need to choose from those online courses listed in the fall 2020 course schedule.

The university has established guiding principles to assist colleges and schools in developing COVID-19 accommodations for fall 2020 academic activities, including required classes and laboratories offered on campus. (These principles may be found at https://www.sdstate.edu/jacksrback.) As these accommodations are introduced, there may be cases in which classes originally planned for face-to-face instruction in campus-based facilities will be converted to a hybrid or completely online delivery model to allow us to follow best practices in physical distancing of students within existing campus spaces. Such transitions may take place after the beginning of the semester, as was the practice in spring 2020, and all transitions will impact domestic and international students equally. In some cases, international students on campus may take more than three credits of hybrid or online coursework to maintain satisfactory progress toward their degrees within their program completion timelines.

South Dakota State University has committed itself to the safety and security of our students during the COVID-19 pandemic and appreciates everyone’s flexibility as we respond to all challenges during this extraordinary time. Our Office of International Affairs will continue to serve international students and scholars on campus and in a virtual environment to support their academic success.