The short story is that the biggest group of international students affected by the issue of 100% online learning are those international students who had not been previously enrolled in the University on March 9, 2020; this is because the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has directed the Designated Student Officer (DSO) not to issue an I-20 for a student in new or initial status who is outside of the U.S. and seeks to enter the U.S. to attend a SEVP certified educational institution full time that will be 100% online learning.
While it is ultimately the U.S. Department of State's decision whether to grant an F or M visa, in this case, it seems unlikely for such a student outside of the U.S. to be able to obtain a student visa to enter the U.S. in student status to attend classes. However, neither students who left the U.S. after March 9, 2020 and will reenter to resume their studies nor students who are already in the U.S. (and who have not otherwise violated their status) and will start a new program should be affected by this issue even if their University will be 100% online for Fall 2020.
As background, on March 9, 2020, SEVP issued guidance permitting institutions to exceed the limit under 8 CFR 214.2 for online learning due to the pandemic. FYI that limit was a class or 3 credits per session and 0 classes for F and M students respectively. However, on July 6, 2020, SEVP issued updated guidance no longer permitting 100% online learning, thereby, eliminating the possibility for international students to continue their education whose institutions decided to provide 100% online learning for Fall 2020 due to the pandemic.
On July 14, with the Trump Administration facing lawsuits over the updated guidance, thankfully, SEVP rescinded this updated guidance permitting the March 9 guidance to remain in effect.
However, despite this positive development for international students, certain travel restrictions (e.g., presidential proclamations) coupled with the fact that U.S. Consulates and Embassies are just beginning to reopen for limited services may make it practically impossible for students outside of the U.S. to obtain a valid visa stamp for entering the U.S. to pursue their studies.
It is important to consider whether and how this issue may affect your case or current situation. If you have questions or concerns regarding how this issue may affect you, you may wish to consult with an Immigration Attorney. Attorney Rebecca Carcagno handles immigration law and is available on a consultation basis at (734) 999-0360.
***Please keep in mind that this blog posting is for educational purposes only (i.e., to give you general information and a general understanding of this immigration related matter); this blog posting does not provide specific legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.***
The Law Offices of Rebecca Carcagno, PLLC
2512 Carpenter Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48108