F-1 Visas and Global Rotation

F-1 students’ participation in global rotation and how it can affect their F-1 student status

If F-1 students choose not to participate in a global rotation by not living in-country with their cohort, or in a city currently on rotation, they will not maintain their F-1 student status. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CANNOT OPT OUT OF A CITY; ONLY THAT YOU WILL NOT RETAIN AN ACTIVE SEVIS RECORD AND WILL NEED TO REQUEST A NEW I-20 WHEN YOU RETURN TO STUDY WITH YOUR CLASS.

Consequences for students opting out of a rotation city:

  • Minerva must terminate the student’s SEVIS record until the beginning of the next term that a student rejoins the class at a city in the rotation.
  • The student will no longer be able to travel to the US on his/her F-1 visa as the student’s I-20 would be inactive.
  • If a student’s SEVIS record is inactive for more than 5 months, Minerva cannot reactivate the student’s SEVIS record and the student will have to request a new I-20 and pay the SEVIS fee again (the 5 months include summer months).
  • Students who have not completed a full academic year (fall and spring) on location in a Minerva city will not be allowed to participate in CPT/OPT. Thus, students not in a Minerva location for the school year would not be able to do a summer internship in the US until after they have completed another academic year with their cohort and maintained their F-1 student status during that time.
  • Students who do not live in Minerva housing are not eligible for financial aid that covers their housing or living costs and for work-study positions.

Minerva’s program was certified by the federal government on the model and assumption that students would follow the full rotation. If the student is not studying with the class in a Minerva city, the student is considered to be on leave of absence for US visa purposes.

Please see the FAQ about F-1 students opting out of a global rotation city below.

Minerva’s undergraduate program was certified as a SEVIS-certified program on the basis that it is a residential program with a study abroad component. This is particularly important because normally SEVIS-certified programs have a physical campus. Because Minervan cohorts live and study together during global rotation under the supervision of faculty and staff as an essential part of the learning model, we were able to get Minerva classified as a SEVIS program and get students F-1 visas. We were not classified as an “online” or “distance” school despite the lack of physical classrooms and classes that take place on the ALF — only because students have the shared residential/cultural immersion component in every semester. This residential status allows international students to obtain F-1 visas and qualifies them for CPT/OPT. Distance education programs do not qualify students to get F-1 visas.

When Minerva students are on global rotation, they are considered to have “active study abroad status” in SEVIS. However, this does not mean that students can be anywhere in the world and still maintain their F-1 student status. F-1 students need to be in-country with their cohorts in order to maintain their student status.

This is United States policy issued by the Department of Homeland Security under CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services). Minerva must follow all rules set forth by the Department of Homeland Security and ensure that all F-1 students are in compliance. This is important now more than ever as we are faced with uncertainty concerning immigration policies. We have examined this U.S. policy from every angle and have tried to find a way to allow more flexibility for students. There is simply not a way to comply with this regulation that allows students to retain F-1 status while they are not with a Minerva class. That DOES NOT mean that you cannot opt out of a city, only that you will not retain an active SEVIS record if you do so and that you will need to ask for  a new I-20 when you do rejoin the class.

Students are permitted by Minerva to opt out of one or more cities although we discourage this because the students then miss the important global element of a Minerva education including location-specific location-based assignments, co-curriculars, cultural immersion, and community engagement. If students want to maintain their F-1 student status so as to participate in CPT in the US during summer, and do not want to go to the city where their class is going, they need to be in one of the other Minerva cities that has students currently in residence.

However, Minerva cannot guarantee housing for students who choose to live with a cohort other than their own. Students who want to live and study in a Minerva city other than the one where their cohort is going to be will need to request permission and ask for housing no later than March 30 each year. We will assist such students with both their F-1 visa and the local visa and residency requirements as applicable, and will try to arrange for Minerva housing if requested.

Students need to arrive during designated move-in dates and before Elevation. Attendance at Elevation is mandatory. Please see the Master Calendar for specific dates. During the academic term, students must remain in their city of study while classes are in session and are permitted to travel during weekends and scheduled breaks.

Reach out to visas@minerva.kgi.edu for individual F-1 advising.

Only your I-20 SEVIS record will be terminated if you choose not to join your class. This means you can no longer travel on your F-1 visa.  This DOES NOT mean that your visa is terminated. If your visa is still good when you choose to join your class, you will just need a new I-20. If your visa has expired, you will need to get a new I-20 AND to re-apply for a new visa. You can only enter the US if you have an active F-1 visa and an active SEVIS record and I-20. Some students have longer visas than others. Please contact visas@minerva.kgi.edu if you have questions about your situation.

No! “Terminate” seems to have a negative connotation but in SEVIS there are negative and neutral connotations to a terminated record. If a student is expelled, this would have a negative connotation and embassies would likely be hesitant to issue another visa. If you choose not to join your cohort, your record is terminated for “authorized early withdrawal,” which basically means “leave of absence,” and will not leave a negative record.

In addition to completing one full academic year of study and maintaining student status in their final year, all F-1 students must return to San Francisco at the end of their last spring term for Manifest.  This is a graduation requirement and must also be completed if students want to apply for post-completion OPT. Returning for Manifest is the only way for F-1 Minerva students to maintain status after global rotation. Students have to apply for OPT while in the US as they will have to include their active I-94 in the application.

No. Work study is given as financial aid for living expenses. Minerva cannot evaluate the living expenses of students who do not live in Minerva housing. So students who opt out of a city OR who opt out of Minerva housing in that city will not qualify for financial aid. You may be offered work study in your initial financial aid package, however, receiving this is contingent upon committing to living in Minerva residence. Furthermore, if your I-20 is deactivated because you are not in a Minerva city, you do not maintain F-1 student status and are disqualified from work study.

Please contact visas@minerva.kgi.edu to discuss your individual situation.

Absence during fall semester

Students who are gone for 5 months or less may request reactivation of their original SEVIS record. If you will only be gone for the 4 month fall semester and you will join your cohort in the spring, your original SEVIS record may be reinstated. You will keep the same SEVIS ID and will not have to pay the I-901 fee again. Reinstatement cannot be requested mid-semester. The DSO can request reinstatement no more than 30 days prior to the beginning of the next term you attend.


bsence during spring semester or more than 1 semester

If you will attend class remotely during the spring semester and rejoin your cohort the following fall, you will likely be gone for more than 5 months (summer months are counted). If you will be away from your cohort for more than 1 semester, you will need to be issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID and you will have to pay the I-901 fee again. In order to fully reactivate your SEVIS record, you will need to enter the US on your valid F-1 visa and new I-20 before joining your cohort again. Failure to do so will result in your record being automatically terminated by the SEVIS system for not having a port of entry in the United States.

A student’s SEVIS record will be reactivated after returning from a leave of absence or absence from their cohort if they return to the US no more than 30 days before the beginning of the next term. Students may join their cohort in a rotation city without reactivating their SEVIS record if they are unable to travel to the US prior to the beginning of the term.

No. You lose the right to exercise any F-1 student benefits when you lose status and your SEVIS record is no longer active. You must maintain active student status for 1 full academic year before you are eligible for off-campus practical training (CPT). You are eligible for work study (if it is part of your financial aid package) as soon as you join your cohort again.

Didn’t find the questions you want to ask? Email visas@minerva.kgi.edu.


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