By: The Fogle Law Firm, LLC
On July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that it would modify temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students who will be taking online classes in the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic. The exemptions will affect F1 and M1 visa holders. However, this ill-conceived and ill-founded modification will cause inconceivable consequences to the U.S. economy, particularly educational institutions, rental housing markets, numerous university cities, and employers. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, “international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $41 billion and supported 458,290 jobs to the U.S. economy during the 2018-2019 academic year.”
Under the modified rule, international students whose schools opt for online classes will be required to leave the U.S. to avoid unlawful presence. Only students whose schools provide in-person classes or adopt a hybrid model (a mixture of in-person and online classes) will be allowed to enter the U.S. or stay, if they are still lawfully in the country. F1 students attending schools with regular in-person classes will be allowed to take only one course or three credits online. Students attending schools that have or will adopt a hybrid model will be allowed to take more classes and credits online. However, the schools will have to certify to SEVP that their entire programs are not online.
Additionally, SEVP requires schools to update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change, if they start their programs in-person and then switch to online classes; or if students change their courses from in-person to online courses. This means that some students may be allowed to enter the U.S. in August/September but will have to leave if their schools decide to switch to online courses due to the pandemic. These exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students not permitted to enroll in online courses.
The top Immigration Attorneys and the team at The Fogle Law Firm have been advocating against this and similar unfounded random rules coming from the Department of Homeland Security and supports all lawful initiatives aiming to prevent these kind of rules, which are contrary to the basic values our country has been built on. We are ready to help with any immigration matter and we wholeheartedly support the following petition available at the following link: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/allow-f-1-students-stay-us-through-fall-semester-if-instruction-online-due-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR16lpaJN4G3772JQREjf6jrkNq9vzxB2vHSYikGCi6GtKCWk1O-kpmrFcE