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SEVP Announces Bar on U.S. Entry for New or Initial Students for Fall 2020 Semester if Courses Fully Online

Posted July 29, 2020Articles

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has announced that for the Fall 2020 semester, new or initial students who will be attending schools that are operating 100% online will be unable to enter the U.S. or change status to student status (i.e. F-1) in order to take a full online course load. Further guidance notes that designated school officials (DSOs) should not issue a Form I-20 to a nonimmigrant student in new or initial status who is outside the U.S. and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online. New or initial foreign national students who have been granted a change of status to F-1 will be deemed in violation if they attend a fully online program. Further, pending change of status applications will be denied if records indicate a fully online semester. These policies also apply to M-1 vocational students.

The above does not apply to existing F-1 students who were in active SEVIS status on March 9th and have been maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status to date, whether in the U.S. or abroad. These students can benefit from SEVP’s March 2020 guidance that enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to Covid-19, including online-only, in-person, and hybrid programs.

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