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8/19/2020 - Letter to Incoming Graduate Students

To: Incoming Caltech Graduate Students
From: Doug C. Rees, Dean of Graduate Studies

As detailed in the announcement to the Caltech community on August 13, the recent order issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health precludes the resumption of in-person academic instruction at this time. One consequence detailed in that memo is that the undergraduate program at Caltech will be fully remote for the Fall 2020 term.

We now understand more clearly the implications of this order for the graduate program, and we are writing to update you on our plans for the fall. Given the county's order, in-person instruction for the graduate program is also to be fully online. Students who are engaged in research will be able to participate in limited activities, in accordance with the Institute's return to work guidelines and campus policies, which include maintaining reduced density in facilities and adhering to protocols around physical distancing, the use of face coverings, and regular health monitoring and reporting.

This required change in our plans, however, also means that we can no longer qualify as an SEVP hybrid program. Incoming international graduate students with F-1 or J-1 SEVIS Initial status will not be able to obtain visas, should not enter the United States, and cannot have their SEVIS records validated in order to attend a fully online program.

Consequently, we are continuing to instruct incoming international students with Initial F-1 or J-1 SEVIS records to remain home and not come to the United States. Students in this situation may either matriculate in a fully remote course of study for the fall term (or longer, if required by public health guidance), or they may request a deferral of admission for up to one year in consultation with their option.

Please note that this guidance does not apply to incoming F-1 SEVIS transfer students from another U.S. institution. F-1 SEVIS transfer students are able to attend a fully online program from within the United States.

You will soon be receiving an Institute survey from me requesting that you finalize your enrollment plans for Fall 2020 by Sunday, August 23 at 5pm PDT. Shortly thereafter, all matriculating students—either on campus or remote—will receive information and instructions from the Graduate Studies Office regarding enrollment, setting up direct deposit for stipends, virtual orientation programming, on-campus check-in procedures for housing, and other relevant onboarding processes.

These challenges notwithstanding, we are looking forward to the start of the academic year and appreciate your patience during this unprecedented period.