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Mar 30, 2020

SEVP Provides Answers to Questions Related to F and M Students and Their Schools About COVID-19

Emily M. Cohen

A SEVP Guidance Document was updated and provided on March 20, 2020 addressing frequently asked questions related to F and M students and SEVP-Certified Schools in Response to the COVID-19 situation. Some of the guidance provided in this document includes the following:

  • Under current conditions, if an active F-1 student leaves the United States to complete the Spring Term online, their SEVIS record should remain in Active status and not be terminated.Students will be considered to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study.The five month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(4) will not apply.
  • SEVP will allow F and M students to temporarily count online classes for a full course of study in excess of limits that are usually in place even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere.
  • If students are required to leave campus, they can continue to study online within the United States or while abroad.If online classes are not available and the school closure is temporary, students can live off campus and return to class when school opens.Students will be excused from meeting the full course of study requirements if the classes that they need are not being offered as a direct result of the impact of COVID-19.
  • Students in transfer status that were supposed to start their program this Spring but are not able to enter the United States can defer their enrollment to Summer or Fall.Schools can defer attendance and keep the student status as “Transfer” in SEVIS.
  • Students who have left the United States can engage in curricular practical training (CPT) while they are abroad.Students must be enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is an integral part of the program; their DSO must have authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and either the employer has an office abroad or the employer can assess the student’s performance and attainment of the learning objectives electronically.
  • DSOs cannot extend students programs to accommodate graduation ceremonies.Students wishing to return to the United States to attend their graduation have the following options:
    • Students can return to the United States prior to the program end date on the I-20 form and attend their graduation during the 60 day grace period; or
    • Students who intend to continue their study in the United States can return with a pending change of educational level or transfer I-20 form; or
    • Students can return to the United States on another visa classification such as a B-2 visitor visa.

The complete guidance document can be found in this COVID-19 FAQ. Please do not hesitate to call our office should you have any additional questions regarding the coronavirus and immigration in the United States.

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Emily M. Cohen

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