SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications on July 6, 2020, regarding temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. As employers, you should check with your F-1 OPT/CPT employees to ensure that they are continuing to maintain their F-1 status based on the below.
Temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester include:
- Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools 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 or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will CBP 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.
- Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Existing regulations state that eligible F-1 students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
- 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 (1) the program is not entirely online, (2) that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and (3) 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.
As employers, you should check with your F-1 OPT/CPT employees to check on the current status of the school operations and ensure that the employees are continuing to maintain their F-1 status based on the above.