ICE: International Students May Have To Go Back To Their Home Country If Their Classes Go Online Only This Fall

Posted on Jul 7, 2020 by Jean Louise

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is modifying the temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester.

The modifications include the following:

  • Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. Students may face removal if they do not change their course load or enroll in another school. The consular will not issue visas to such students who are abroad and CBP will not permit their entry into the United States;
  • Students taking normal in-person classes may remain in the United States as long as they continue to comply with the regulations. SEVP will allow them to take a maximum of three credit hours online;
  • Students attempting schools with a hybrid program (online and in-person classes) will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. The schools will have to certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, that the program:
    • is not entirely online,
    • that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and
    • that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.

These modifications do not apply to students taking only English language classes. These students have to take only in-person classes.

If a school has in-person classes during this fall and decides later to change to online classes, the school will have only 10 days to change their SEVIS.

If you have any questions regarding your nonimmigrant student status, contact the immigration attorneys at Patel Law Group at and