Information for F-1 Students

F-1 Rules of Status

Employment in F-1 Status

Maintaining F-1 Status

Additional Information


Online (Web-based) Courses for F-1 Students 

What is considered an on-line (web-based) course?

According to federal regulations, an on-line course is a class taken on-line or through distance learning which “does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination, or other purposes integral to completion of the class.” (Source: U.S. Code of Federal Regulation: [8 CFR § 214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G)])

"An online or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing.” [ (Source: U.S. Code of Federal Regulation: 8 CFR § 214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G)])

How many can I take per required semester?

“For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken online or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class.” (Source: U.S. Code of Federal Regulation: [8 CFR § 214.2 (f)(6)(i)(G)])

What does this mean?

Important: This regulation pertains only to F-1 international students physically present in the United States.

For F-1 students studying at SUNY Plattsburgh, a full-time course load is required only during the Fall and Spring semesters. During the Fall and Spring semesters, an F-1 student is limited to only one online or distance education course that can be counted towards a full-time course load, whether it is a SUNY Plattsburgh course or a course offered by another school.

There is no requirement that students be enrolled during the Summer or Winter sessions, which are optional. Thus, F-1 students can take as many online or distance education courses from SUNY Plattsburgh or from another institution as they wish (with SUNY Plattsburgh's approval) during Summer or Winter session.

How does this work in the real world?

Example 1:

An undergraduate international student is taking 16 credits, 9 of which are in traditional on campus classes and 6 on-line in the fall semester. Since fall is a required term for SUNY Plattsburgh, only one on-line course, or 3 credits, counts toward the full-time course load. This student is thus maintaining his or her F-1 student status because he has 12 credits (9 traditional plus 3 on-line credits).

Example 2:

An undergraduate international student in her senior year wants to take three on-line courses during the winter term. She wants to stay at SUNY Plattsburgh during the Winter Term. Since winter term is optional for SUNY Plattsburgh and she can take up to 9 credits during winter term, this student may take all three on-line courses in the winter term. She is maintaining her F-1 student status.

What if I want to take more than one (1) online course?

Taking more than one online course is fine, but students with an F-1 visa MUST make sure they are also taking at least 9 credits worth of classes that meet physically on campus.

If I am in my last semester of study and only need one course to graduate, can I take a distance education course?

No. Immigration regulations strictly prohibit students in their last semester of study from taking ONLY an online course.  Even if students only need to take an online course, they must still take another traditional course that requires regular classroom meetings. It is best to consult with GEO staff before making these plans.

How can I see what type of online courses are available at SUNY Plattsburgh?

For more information on online courses check out the Online Learning at SUNY Plattsburgh webpage. This site will give you all the necessary information needed on online learning at SUNY Plattsburgh.


Contact Information

If you have any questions about international education, admission, or financial aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Global Education Office
State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Kehoe Administration Building, Room 210
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901 USA

Phone: 1-(518)-564-3287
Fax: 1-(518)-564-3292
Facebook: SUNY Plattsburgh Global Education