Immigration & Customs Enforcement Warn Students: In Order to Stay, You Must Be Enrolled In Physical Classes- NO FULL TIME ONLINE COURSES DURING COVID CRISIS!
Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes, as per the latest information provided for by the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.
Due to COVID-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.The previous position put into place as exemptions from the general rule that students could not attend full time online classes and maintain status during the Covid pandemic.
However, now the agency has determined that in an effort to move back to some sense of normalcy it should not continue. Therefore, US consulates and Embassies abroad as well as Customs and Border Patrol have been advised to not issue visas or allow entry for any F-1 or M-1 Students who are coming to attend school where classes have shifted from full time in school classes to full time online classes.
Normally a typical F-1 student who was enrolled in a proper full time academic in person school could take up to one class or three credit hours online. That methodology is being implemented again.
Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model which 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.
This rule effectively takes place for the Fall Semester 2020. If you or a loved one are in a predicament of finding your school is doing online only classes, please discuss your options with a trained and knowledgeable Immigration Attorney.