First-year international students advised to follow Institute guidance when registering for classes

MIT guidance advises new international students to take at least 24 credits of in-person coursework

First-year international students are advised to follow the Fall 2020 guidance on registering for in-person coursework determined by the International Students Office (ISO), according to a Feb. 8 email from Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz. 

Per the ISO’s fall guidance, new international students should take at least 24 credits of hybrid or in-person coursework to enter the U.S.

A July 24 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance wrote that new international students with F-1 visas pursuing fully online coursework would not be permitted to enter the U.S. 

The DHS guidance did not fully specify the conditions that would allow first-year international students following hybrid programs to enter the U.S., prompting the ISO to release its fall guidance. The DHS released an FAQ Aug. 7 which wrote that international students would not be able to enter the U.S. “to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online.” 

A petition authored by the International Support Network MIT with over 280 signatures urged MIT to decrease the number of units required for first-year international students to enter the U.S.

“Peer institutions such as Columbia, Tufts, Berkeley and UMichigan [sic] only require new international students to take only one hybrid or in-person course,” the petition wrote.

Waitz wrote that “international students can make a decision that best meets their individual needs and circumstances” and that first-year international students intending to register for fewer than 24 units should consider the risks of possibly encountering future issues related to immigration status or applications. 

He added that government guidance on the minimum amount of required in-person coursework for new international students “continues to be conflicting” and that the ISO believes that its guidance “is most in line with the federal requirements.”