The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that foreign nationals on F-1 visas (as well as M-1 vocational students) attending schools during the Fall 2020 semester that are operating entirely online will not be permitted to take a full online course load and remain in the United States. Any F-1 students enrolled in fully online programs must depart the United States or transfer to a school with in-person instruction in order to maintain lawful status.If an F-1 student is enrolled in a U.S. school that is offering online-only classes, they may remain in active F-1 status while living outside of the U.S.
If an F-1 student is attending a school that is operating on a hybrid model (i.e. a mixture of online and in-person classes), they will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online and still maintain lawful status. The student’s school will need to certify on the student’s I-20 that the program is not entirely online during the Fall 2020 semester.
This new SEVP guideline should not affect any F-1 nonimmigrants who are working in a period of optional practical training (OPT) after the completion of a course of study. However, F-1 nonimmigrants who are currently enrolled in a course of study while engaging in a period of curricular practical training (CPT) may be affected if their school is offering online-only classes during the Fall 2020 semester.