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Know the Rules: Online and Distance Learning Classes

July 13, 2012

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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