Allow international students to remain in the U​.​S. to complete or continue their studies.

Allow international students to remain in the U​.​S. to complete or continue their studies.

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We, the undersigned, believe in the breadth of experiences international students bring to US institutions of higher education. We are practitioners who work with high school students, college and university students who want to pursue their education in the US. We are supporters of the practitioners who work with these students. We work in the US and countries worldwide.

The decision on July 6 by ICE and SEVP to prohibit international students from studying while in the US in an online platform is damaging. It not only hurts students, but faculty, staff and communities. International students bring diversity, life experiences and more to our campuses. They bring over $41 billion to the US economy and support thousands of American jobs. With the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, this decision could decimate already struggling communities.

With so many unknowns about school openings for face-to-face instruction in a safe mode for Fall, penalizing our international students is not beneficial to anyone. We have followed all the regulations to date. We are gravely disappointed in this new regulation deemed completely unreasonable. The upmost priority should be providing a healthy and safe environment for our students to complete their academic program at their school of choice. 

We, the undersigned, encourage a reversal of this decision immediately.

SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester
WASHINGTON – The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications Monday to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.

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 and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection 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. Eligible F 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 the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and 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.

Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load. Nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.

F-1 nonimmigrant students pursue academic coursework and M-1 nonimmigrant students pursue vocational coursework while studying in the United States.