Fall 2020 Guidance
In response to COVID-19, university courses and operations remain predominantly online for fall.

Fall 2020 Plan: F-1 International Students

Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Find information for continuing F-1 students. We will update this page regularly with new information.


Contact Laura Kanner, Director of International Student Advising at lkanner@lesley.edu, or message her on Microsoft Teams. You can also email general questions to iss@lesley.edu.

Studying Online Within the United States

You may remain in the U.S. and study full-time if you take a full course load, which is 12 credits for undergraduate students or 9 credits for graduate students. You will remain in lawful F-1 status.

Studying Online From Your Home Country

You may study online from your home country as long as you take a full course load. You will remain in lawful F-1 status if you study full-time. Your I-20 and F-1 visa will remain valid until their end dates. If your I-20 end date is approaching, but you won’t graduate by that date, please fill in this form to request an extended I-20. 

Your visa will remain valid for its duration. If it expires before you will return to the U.S. to continue your degree, you will need to apply for a new visa. Email iss@lesley.edu if you have questions about the visa renewal process.

The “5-Month Rule"

The 5-month rule is not in effect. As long as you maintain your status by studying full-time, online, you can remain outside of the U.S. for more than 5 months. Your I-20 and your visa will not be canceled if you are outside the U.S. for longer than 5 months.

Requesting a New I-20 or Travel Signature

You can fill out this form to request a new I-20 or travel signature, or you can email iss@lesley.edu. We will email you valid digital I-20s for the duration of this crisis. If you prefer a paper copy, we can mail your new I-20 to you.

Traveling and Re-entering the United States

The U.S. government tells us that F-1 students who are maintaining their status are eligible to enter the U.S. right now.  As always, you must have these three items:

  • Your passport, valid 6 months into the future
  • A valid F-1 visa
  • An I-20 with a travel signature on the second page that is less than 12 months old. You can fill out this form to request a new I-20 or travel signature, or you can email iss@lesley.edu. We are able to provide you I-20s via email during the pandemic.

There may be travel restrictions or flight restrictions that would prevent you from entering the U.S. If you are located in China or Brazil, you are subject to the 14-day travel ban. That means you must depart the country you are in and spend 14 days in another country before you will be able to enter the U.S. 

If you are in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, or Ireland, and you have a valid F-1 visa, you are exempt from the 14-day ban and may travel directly to the U.S. Travel restrictions can change with little notice. For all students planning to travel to the U.S., you should contact your U.S. consulate or embassy as you make your travel plans to ensure you will not face unexpected roadblocks.

If You Need Less Than a Full Course Load to Complete Your Degree 

If Fall 2020 is your final semester and you need less than a full course load to complete your degree, you may reduce to as few courses as you need in your final term and maintain your F-1 status. If you think you have another reason you would need a reduced course load, please email iss@lesley.edu before you finalize your course schedule.

Employment Authorization

Lesley's International Student Services Office will hold virtual employment workshops during the Fall semester to help you learn about work authorization. You may still be eligible for OPT or CPT during the pandemic. We will send information on the workshops out through our monthly email newsletters. 

If you will graduate this fall but plan on studying outside the U.S., and you still want to apply for OPT, please email iss@lesley.edu to learn more about your options.

Part-Time Study

Please email iss@lesley.edu right away to discuss this. 

If you will remain outside the U.S., you may take less than a full course load, but your SEVIS record will be closed and it will need to be re-opened or re-activated before you return to the U.S. This may mean paying additional immigration fees, and it may impact your employment if you are within a year of graduation.

It is very important that you discuss this with Lesley's International Student Services Office before you finalize your course schedule. You should also reach out to your academic advisor to learn about any academic implications.

Health Insurance for Fall 2020

If you are studying in the U.S., you must have a U.S.-based health insurance plan. You may enroll in the Lesley University plan, or you may waive it by uploading proof of a U.S.-based, comparable, ACA-compliant plan.

If you are studying outside the U.S., you still must waive the insurance, however, you may use a foreign plan. As long as you have health coverage where you will be studying, you may apply to waive it. It does not need to be a U.S.-based, ACA-compliant plan if you will remain outside of the U.S.

The form requires you to enter a state, even if your plan is based outside of the U.S. If you are using an international insurance plan, please put "MA" for the state.

If you remain at home for Fall 2020 and return in Spring 2020, you would be able to enroll in the Lesley University plan for Spring only.

Connecting with Other International Students

Dr. Amy Gooden is leading an International Student Affinity and Language Support Group every Thursday at 5:00 pm Eastern Time. This is a series of workshops and academic support sessions designed for international students who want to connect with other members of the international community at Lesley, expand their academic and social English communication skills, and learn about specific supports at Lesley for international students. Join the Student Affinity and Language Support Group on Teams.

Upcoming Government Guidance

We do not anticipate major changes that would disrupt your ability to study in the U.S. or in your home country.  If there is new guidance that affects you, International Student Services will let you know right away. If you are concerned with what you are hearing on the news, please email iss@lesley.edu to schedule a meeting to address your concerns.