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Know the Rules: Online and Distance Learning Classes

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Many U.S. colleges and universities offer online and distance learning classes. While these classes are convenient and offer flexibility, it is important for F and M students to know the rules about these types of classes to maintain status.

An online or distance learning class is a class that does not require a student’s physical attendance for classes, exams or other purposes integral to completion of the class. Even though a school may offer these classes, regulations give strict limits to the amount of online or distance learning an F or M student must follow:

  • An M-1 student may not count online or distance education courses toward a full course of study.
  • An F-1 student may only count one online or distance education course without the physical oversight of a school employee (or the equivalent of three credits) toward a full-course of study per academic term. F-1 students may be eligible to take more than one online class to maintain their status as long as the class is physically proctored or monitored by a school employee.
  • English language program students may not count online or distance education courses toward a full course of study.

If you have questions, call the Student and Exchange Visitor Program; (SEVP) Response Center at 703-603-3400. SEVP staffs this number from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. At other times you may leave a message, and an SEVP representative will return your call.

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