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UNC-Chapel Hill will return to normal operations and in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester. This means that international students in F-1 status must arrive in the United States on or before the program start date as listed on the Form I-20. For most students, this date will be Aug. 18, 2021.

For more information regarding arrivals, COVID-19 standards and modes of instruction, please refer to Fall 2021 FAQs for International Students found below.

Please note that ISSS advisors are not yet offering in-person services but will remain available via email and will continue to offer advising and process requests remotely via Zoom. Students can contact their International Student Advisor directly based on their program of study or email ISSS at

ISSS will continue to contact students through their UNC email, so students should monitor their UNC email account.

Fall 2021 FAQs for International Students

We look forward to welcoming you to Carolina for the fall 2021 semester! To help plan for your semester and travel to Chapel Hill, we’ve addressed some frequently asked questions (FAQs) below. If you are a continuing international student and already in the United States, this information may be helpful to you as well.

All UNC-Chapel Hill students (undergraduate, graduate and professional), staff and faculty—regardless of citizenship or visa status—must follow the COVID-19 Community Standards posted at the Carolina Together website. The standards address mask requirements; physical distancing; gathering limits; monitoring your health; testing, tracing and quarantine requirements; and immunization recommendations.

Please review the Fall 2021 FAQs for Return to Campus After International Travel for additional information.

A. International students with an F-1 visa should plan to arrive in the U.S. prior to the program start date listed on their Form I-20.

Please note that if you will be living on campus, you will need to schedule a specific move-in date and time. For more information about on-campus housing and to schedule your move-in appointment, please contact Carolina Housing.

A. Currently, ISSS advisors are experiencing a high volume of emails and responses may be delayed. Please do not reach out to multiple advisors as this impedes their ability to respond to inquiries properly and promptly.
If you have submitted all of the required documents for issuance of your Form I-20, you can expect a 2-3 week processing period. Please plan accordingly.

*Estimated processing times are for June through August 2021.

A. During the fall 2021 semester, undergraduate and graduate students in F-1 status may take up to one online or remote course (up to 3 credit hours) per semester. As a reminder, a full program of study for undergraduate students is 12 credit hours and nine credit hours for graduate students.

A. For the fall 2021 semester, UNC-Chapel Hill will return to normal operations and in-person instruction. This means that international students in F-1 status must be physically present in the United States and enrolled in a full-time program of study, unless pursuing an approved study abroad/research abroad opportunity.

New/Incoming students who are taking classes in person must enter the U.S. before the program start date on the Form I-20. If you are not able to arrive in Chapel Hill by your program start date to study in person, please notify ISSS to request a new Form I-20 with a start date for a future semester.

Students who are completing the fall semester remotely will need to remain outside the U.S. for the duration of the semester. While outside the U.S., students may continue to enroll in courses and are allowed to take more than one online/remote course for the fall 2021 semester.

Continuing students in F-1 status who are unable to enter the U.S. for the fall 2021 semester will need to complete a Notice of Leave of Absence or Remote Participation form prior to the start of the fall semester (August 18) so that ISSS can terminate the F-1 SEVIS Record for “Authorized Early Withdrawal.” Otherwise, ISSS will be required to terminate the SEVIS record for “Failing to Maintain Status,” which could have negative impacts on a student’s ability to return to the U.S. for a future semester. Termination of a student’s SEVIS record does not impact a student’s ability to continue enrolling in courses from abroad; it only prohibits a student from entering the U.S. in F-1 status until a new I-20 is issued, and it resets the one year of enrollment in F-1 status requirement for Practical Training.

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