October 8, 2020
<p style="margin-top:8px; margin-bottom:16px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:"Times New Roman",serif"><span…
As the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) continues to receive stakeholder questions about the impact of COVID-19 on SEVP-certified schools and nonimmigrant students, read new guidance for M-1 students and SEVP-certified schools related to online instruction, suspended term end dates and reporting responsibilities. For a full list of FAQs, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 on ICE.gov/coronavirus.
An M school has had to cancel several weeks of school, which will push the term end date to a date still to be determined. What are the options for extending student visas?
Students who have departed the United States or are currently outside the country with an expired visa or a visa that will expire prior to a return to their program of study should contact the U.S. Department of State for guidance. Refer to the Department of State’s website on COVID-19 Visa Services and Restrictions for additional information.
What should M students do in cases where most of their classes are hands-on and cannot be done remotely?
M students may take online or remote classes as determined by their school. However, if the classes cannot be done remotely, students’ records may remain in Active status and they may remain in the United States until the next session start date or until school operations return to normal, whichever occurs first.
Students should seek guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on extending their status if the program cannot be completed before the student’s Admit Until Date as listed on their Form I-94. Students may remain in the United States with a timely and properly filed Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status,” application to USCIS while the application is pending. Refer to USCIS’ website on COVID-19 Delays in Extension/Change of Status Filings for additional information.
Students may also choose to seek termination of their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record for authorized early withdrawal and return to their program of study on a new, Initial Form I-20 after the COVID-19 emergency ends.
An M school has suspended classes until later in the session. The school cannot offer classes online and has provided a procedural adaptation plan to SEVP. Is there anything else the school should be doing?
Schools do not need to take additional actions regarding operational change plan reporting as long as they provide updated plans to SEVP if there are any material changes to report. Remember, schools must continue to fulfill all student and school record keeping requirements during this time.