Visa Crunch

US Government Extends Guidelines For International Students To Study Online

Good news for students planning to study in America. The US government has extended guidance issued in March 2020 that allows some international students enrolled at US colleges and universities to continue to take more online classes than permitted before the pandemic.

A notice dated April 18, 2022, by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance for the 2022-23 academic year. 

The March 2020 guidance applies to non-immigrant students who were actively enrolled at a US school on March 9, 2020, and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the US or abroad, it said.

Under the guidance, international students can remain in the US if they are engaged in a fully online programme of study if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status.

Study in America: Understanding rules surrounding online learning

Under the March 2020 guidance, active F and M students can temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study for the 2021-22 academic year.

The March 2020 guidance applies to continuing F and M nonimmigrant students with valid F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status on March 9, 2020, including those previously enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the US and seeking to re-enter the country for the 2021-22 academic year. 

Students actively enrolled at an institution in the US on March 9, 2020, who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the US, even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning.

Conversely, new or Initial F and M students who were not previously enrolled in a programme of study on March 9, 2020, cannot study in America as a nonimmigrant student for the 2021-22 academic year if their course is 100% online. 

New students can enter the US if they are engaged in a hybrid programme, with some requirements for in-person learning. 

 Click here for the FAQs.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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