ICE Update

On Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced new guidance for F1 international students taking online coursework due to COVID-19 in the Fall 2020 semester. You can see the news release here: 

The first priority of the Office of International Programs is to ensure the health and safety of our international students, and to help you decipher immigrant policy that may impact you. The purpose of this post is to explain how the new ICE guidance will impact you. 

SHSU falls into category 3 of the new guidance. We will be adopting a hybrid approach for the fall, with both face-to-face and online courses offered.

Please see the requirements below, separated into two categories: (1) SHSU international students who are physically present in the United States, and (2) SHSU international students who are currently outside the United States.

If you are an active or incoming SHSU F1 international student who is physically present in the United States:

  • You must remain in full-time status for Fall 2020 (minimum of 12 credit hours for undergrads, 9 credit hours for grads). Exceptions:
    • Students graduating in December 2020 that have fewer classes required to graduate- You must request a "Reduced Course Load"
    • Graduate students enrolled only in dissertation/thesis
    • Graduate students with an active, full-time graduate assistantship (minimum 6 hours)
    • Students on medical Reduced Course Load- Please talk to Justin
  • You must take at least one, 3-hour course in a face-to-face format. For example, if you are an undergrad, you could take 9 credits online and 3 credits face-to-face (total= 12 credits). Notes:
    • All of the courses that you are taking must count toward your degree.
    • "But what if there are no face-to-face classes available to me?" You need to find one. If you have difficulty, please reach out to your academic advisor for help.
    • "But what if I am living in Utah/Michigan/New York and don't want to return to Huntsville in the fall?" In order to remain an active SHSU F1 international student, you MUST be enrolled in a face-to-face class in the fall, either in Huntsville or at the SHSU Woodlands Center.
    • "But what if SHSU goes 100% online at some point in the future?" We will be using the official SHSU class schedule to determine if a class is considered "online" or "face-to-face." If a class is listed in the class schedule as "face-to-face," your status will not change.
  • You must be fully registered for classes by Monday, July 27.  OIP staff will be required to manually check that all international students are in a fully face-to-face or hybrid model AND reissue new I-20s (see below) before August 4th. As such, we are requiring you to be fully registered by July 27. If you are not registered yet...

If you are an active or incoming SHSU F1 international student who is outside of the United States:

  • ... and you plan to travel to SHSU for Fall 2020. Please see the previous email sent regarding travel plans.  
    • You must comply with all of the requirements listed above. One difference- Please register for classes as soon as possible.
    • An international student advisor will be reaching out to you this week to send you your new I-20. You MUST have your new I-20 (with "hybrid" listed in the annotation) before you travel to the U.S.
  • ...and you plan to stay in your home country for Fall 2020.
    • Please email the OIP at as soon as possible to inform us of your plans.

ALL SHSU international students- We will be issuing new I-20s for ALL international students attending SHSU in Huntsville/TWC in the fall. Dana, Justin, and Rico will be dividing up this task. Please look out for a very important email next week from one of the advisors about your new I-20.

We know that you will probably have a lot of questions about this guidance. Feel free to email Dana (, Justin (, Rico (, or the OIP ( with your questions. Because we are receiving a lot of emails, please be patient with us. We make take 1-2 days to respond.

Lastly, we know that this is a very difficult and stressful time for international students. On top of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, there is further uncertainty around immigration issues. Rest assured that you are not the only international students in the U.S. feeling this stress right now. On behalf of the OIP and the SHSU international community, we want you to know that you are valued and that we are so, so proud to have you as an international Bearkat. We will do everything in our power to help you navigate this complex situation. We are here for you.


Justin, Dana, Rico, Malin, Carleen, and Nikki

SHSU Office of International Programs