July 14, 2020
After MIT and Harvard sued to stop the Trump administration from implementing the rule change discussed below, the administration relented and rolled back the proposed change. It remains to be seen if a new version of the rule will be put forward, but as of now, international students whose schools are moving to online-only courses for the fall semester can remain in the United States pursuant to their existing F or M status.
With many colleges, universities and technical schools announcing their movement to a fully online course-load for the Fall 2020 semester, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has decided that students cannot take a full online course load and remain in the US under their F or M visa. Customs and Border Patrol officers have been instructed to deny admittance of any students using F or M visas to enter the country.
All students attending schools who have decided to open in the Fall with in-person classes remain bound by existing federal regulations for student visas.
For those enrolled in “hybrid” institutions, that is, schools that have decided to lecture with both in-person and online classes, may be allowed to take “one or more” online classes if the school certifies with SEVP that the program is “not entirely online” and the student remains enrolled in “the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”
SEVP and ICE insists that if students “find” themselves in a situation where their visa will be revoked or denied entry a month before course enrollment begins, that they seek “alternative steps” to maintain their nonimmigrant status.
This new announcement directly reverses an exemption made for Spring and Summer 2020 coursework which permitted F and M visa holders to maintain their status due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Stuart Anderson at Forbes, administration policies will be “a further financial blow and are likely to crush the dreams of students.”
We recognize for many students and families that this news, in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and financial fallout, stressors will be raised and LHSCD wants to help in any way we can. You can contact our office at (215)-925-0705 or here, on our website to set up a consultation. Due to building restrictions, we unfortunately cannot accommodate in-person consultations at this time.