As per the new SEVP guidance, non immigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their non immigrant 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 non immigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their non immigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.
The new regulation requires that all US-based F-1 students must take at least one in-person class this fall to stay in status and retain their visa. OPT students are exempt. Answers to some common queries:
What does this mean for the current term?
There is no change to the current term. This guidance is specific to the fall term.
If I am a new student who is able to travel to the US for fall?
If you are a new student and able to obtain a visa and arrive to your chosen university then this will have no impact to you so long as the university remains in either a full face-to-face or hybrid delivery model and you are registered for a course that has an in-person component.
If I am a new student who does not receive a visa in time to get to the US in fall?
Once you confirm your start for fall will be online then the university will re-issue your Form I-20 updating the start date to the next intake. You will be able to start your program online in the fall.
If I am a new student who has received my F-1 visa to come in fall but I cannot get to the US?
If you have an F-1 visa but are unable to travel then you will need to defer your start to the next intake and your university will need to re-issue an updated Form I-20 to you. In the interim, you will be able to start your program online.
What does this mean if I am an existing student in the US?
If you are already in the US and continuing your study with the university then you will not be impacted so long as the university remains delivering either fully face-to-face or hybrid learning to its students and you are registered for a course that has an in-person component. None of Study Group’s partner universities in the US are currently planning on moving to an online-only delivery model.
If I am an existing student but am currently outside of the US but able to return for fall?
If you are able to return to campus then this will not impact you so long as the university remains in either a full face-to-face or hybrid delivery model and you are registered for a course that has an in-person component.
If I am an existing student but am currently outside of the US but cannot return for fall?
Current students who will be out of the country for Fall term will have their I-20s terminated and then will need to get a new I-20 from the university to return for the next intake. This does not prevent you from taking courses online during fall term from outside of the U.S. This should not impact the F-1 Visa in a student’s passport based on current guidelines. It does impact the student’s I-20.