ICE Announces that International Students on F-1 Visas will Lose their Visas if their Coursework is Entirely Online

By July 8, 2020News
Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr, labeled for reuse: https://www.flickr.com/photos/evoo73/9140462500

As Colleges and University announce their course work for next semester, some schools have changed their schedules to all online courses for students due to the COVID pandemic. As a result, ICE and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced on July 6 and it has made modifications to nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester.

Temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester include:

  1. F-1 and M-1 student enrolled in schools that are operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
  2. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
  3. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.

To maintain their status, many international students raced this week to enroll in in-person classes, even if they were not connected to their majors.

For information about applying for a Social Security Number as a student on OPT, please click here.

For information about permissible business activities while in F-1 status, please click here.

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