At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued guidance permitting students in active F and M status to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study. Due to continuing public health concerns, the guidance issued in March 2020 will remain in effect for the 2021-22 academic year.
The March 2020 guidance applies to continuing students in valid F -1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status as of March 9, 2020, including those enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the United States and seeking to re-enter the country for the 2021-22 academic year. Students who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the United States, even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning.
New or Initial F-1 and M-1 students who were not previously enrolled in a program of study on March 9, 2020, and who seek to pursue a course of study that is 100% online will not be able to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant student for the 2021-22 academic year. DSOs will not issue a Form I-20 for a new student outside the US and who plans to take classes at a SEVP institution that is fully online. However, new students in hybrid programs with in-person learning requirements will be allowed to enter the United States.
If a SEVP-certified school has made substantive changes to previously submitted plans for the 2021-22 academic year, the changes should be submitted to SEVP within 10 business days of the decision for implementation. If there have been no substantive changes, the SEVP-certified school will not need to resubmit plans for the 2021-22 academic year.
Please contact your Klasko attorney if you have any questions about this Client Alert.
The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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