Please note that SEVP rescinded the widely criticized July 6 guidance discussed below. Unfortunately the rescission has left us with questions that need answers quickly so that UM can continue to plan course delivery for the fall and properly advise international students. Advice will be made available to the UM community as soon as SEVP clarifies the applicable fall 2020 semester regulations.
Monday, July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published a broadcast message titled, “COVID-19 and Fall 2020.” We understand the confusion and frustration that this new guidance has caused students. We are here to help support you during this time and put your worries at ease.
The message affects students in F-1 status and gives instructions to schools and students based on the fall instructional plan of their institution. By the definitions in the SEVP broadcast message, the published operational plan of the University of Mississippi falls into the hybrid model which is a mixture of in-person and online classes.
Under the hybrid model, students will have a temporary exemption for the fall semester that allows for more than one 3 credit online or remote course, unless you are in a pathway program or language training program. Check your I-20 to see the “Educational Level” listed in the” Program of Study” box to see your classification. If you are in a pathway program or language training program, you must take all in-person or in some cases, hybrid courses.
The SEVP guidance does not set a minimum number of classes, so the recommendation is that students cannot be in all remote or online courses, and if there is a choice in format, in-person or hybrid is preferred by SEVP.
It is important to ensure that you have a schedule that meets these requirements. In the university’s coding in my.olemiss.edu, section (in-person) and hybrid classifications mean the class has an in-person component. You should have at least one in-person or hybrid course in your course schedule.
Thesis and dissertation hours count as in-person hours, so any graduate student with thesis or dissertation hours is compliant with the regulation.
Many of you have asked and worried about the consequences if the university must move online at any point during the fall semester due to high COVID-19 infection rates. The University of Mississippi is considered to be operating under a hybrid model according to SEVP’s guidance, and our plan is to remain a hybrid model for the fall semester, as long as we are able to mitigate virus spread with our protocols and the status of our state, system, and community allow it. Our goal would be to make changes to the delivery format of courses on an individual basis, and we have worked to create a course or course schedule for international students that will enable international students to be certified as having a hybrid schedule for the fall semester. If you are not enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours, then we will be in contact with you about the course. You, your status, and your ability to remain here to complete your degrees are critically important to us. If you have questions about your schedule once you have reviewed it in my.olemiss.edu, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students in J-1 status also have flexibility with their schedules, and we recommend enrolling in in-person or hybrid if that is offered by your program. Information from the Exchange Visitor Program related to COVID-19 can be found at: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/