F-1 Students Taking Online-Only Classes Must Depart U.S. – (07/09/20) UPDATED 07/14/20
**On July 14, 2020, several news outlets have reported that the Trump Administration has rescinded its new rule that would have applied to international students enrolled in online classes in the U.S. in the fall. The decision to reverse the July 6th directive and “return to the status quo” was announced at the beginning of a hearing in a federal lawsuit that was brought jointly by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a Broadcast Message substantially narrowing the ability of foreign students to remain in the U.S. on F-1 visas if taking online courses at U.S. universities.
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 students be permitted entry by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. Students currently in the U.S. enrolled in such programs for the fall semester will either need to depart or transfer to a school offering in-person instruction in order to remain in lawful status. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures as a Temporary Final Rule in the Federal Register.
For students attending schools that are operating under in-person class settings, eligible students in F-1 visa status may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. Students attending schools that are offering a hybrid of online and in-person classes may take more than one class or three credit hours online but the schools must certify via the Form I-20 that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for fall 2020, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make progress in their degree program.
Students are advised to consult with designated school officials for a new Form I-20, and all Form I-20s must be updated and reissued to reflect these changes in program enrollment and student information by August 4, 2020.
For more details, please refer to the Broadcast Message.