Back to Top skip to main content
GandS U.S. Immigration Logo
Jul 7, 2020

SEVP Modifies Temporary Exemptions for International Students Taking Online Courses During the Fall 2020 Semester

Emily M. Cohen

On Monday, July 6th the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that it has implemented modifications to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the Fall 2020 semester. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a change in policy had permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than usually permitted by Federal regulations to maintain their nonimmigrant status. These modifications are now making it more difficult for students to maintain their student status if in person classes are not available.  Some of these modifications include the following:

  • F-1 and M-1 students attending schools which operate entirely online during the Fall 2020 semester may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.
  • Active students currently residing in the United States enrolled in programs operating entirely online must depart the country or transfer to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.
  • Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations and may only take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. This is a change to the guidelines released in March that temporarily allowed F-1 and M-1 students to count online classes towards their full course load due to COVID-19.
  • Schools operating on a hybrid model must certify that the program is not entirely online, that students are not taking an entirely online course load, and that students are taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.  F-1 students in hybrid programs will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online.
  • F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.
  • The Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and programs operating fully online and those students will be denied entry to the United States.

The announcement by SEVP makes it clear that international students may face immigration consequences including but not limited to the initiation of removal proceedings if they are not properly enrolled in the required number of in person classes.

This is a time when international students are confused and worried about their status.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to our Office for further guidance and support.

Related Team

E Cohen Team Page

Emily M. Cohen

267.930.6411

267.930.6411

email Emily

Philadelphia (Walnut Street)

Full Biography

Emily M. Cohen

Recent Blogs

Mar 01, 2021

USCIS Extends Flexibilities to F-1 Students Filing for OPT

On February 26, 2021 USCIS announced flexibilities for certain F-1 students in the filing of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD) for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is due to the substantial delays in issuing receipt notices at certain USCIS lockboxes where these applications are filed. These flexibilities only apply to I-765 forms received by USCIS on or after October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. Learn more in this blog.

Feb 25, 2021

Biden Administration Lifts Suspension of Immigrant Visa Issuance

On February 24, 2021, the Biden Administration issued a Presidential Proclamation that reversed President Trump’s EO that, for more than 10 months, has prevented many foreign nationals physically outside the United States from obtaining an Immigrant Visa which, upon issuance and admission to the United States, would automatically convert the individual to a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”). Passed under the guise of protecting the U.S. workforce since LPRs are permitted to accept any and all forms of employment, in effect, the ban served to keep close family members of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, diversity visa lottery winners, key employees, and others from obtaining the Immigrant Visa that would permit them to assume LPR status. Learn more in this blog.

Feb 24, 2021

BREAKING NEWS: USCIS Extends Premium Processing for E-3 Australian Specialty Worker Petitions

On February 24, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it would immediately provide the option of Premium Processing for petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting a change or extension of status to E-3 classification, which applies only to Australian nationals coming to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee of $2500 to ensure a government response within fifteen days. Until now, this service was not available for the E-3 category. Learn more in this blog.