On Monday, July 6th Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that for the Fall 2020 semester, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is modifying the temporary exemptions put into place for the Spring and Summer semesters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exemptions for Spring and Summer Semesters
Earlier this year, SEVP had instituted a temporary exemption regarding the online study policy due to COVID-19 for the Spring and Summer Semesters for international students. That temporary exemption permitted international students to take more online courses than normally allowed in order to maintain F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant status.
Changes for the Fall Semester
SEVP has now modified the temporary COVID-19 exemptions for online courses for Fall 2020. It is important to note that all students attending schools in the United States for the Fall semester must obtain from their Designated School Official a new Form I-20 “certifying that the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.” The schools must provide these new Forms I-20 to students no later than August 4, 2020.
Failure to abide by these rules may result in the government initiating removal proceedings for F-1 and M-1 students currently in the United States and denying F-1 and M-1 visa applications if they are abroad.
Does This Apply to Practical Training?
While this change will not impact post-graduation Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM OPT, it may impact Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for the Fall 2020 semester.
Today, Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit in an effort to enjoin ICE from implementation of the exemption changes announced on Monday. We will provide additional updates as they become available.
If you have any questions, please contact your Maggio Kattar attorney.