ICE/SEVP COVID-19 Regulatory Guidance
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-2022 academic year.
This ICE Guidance on COVID-19 enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the continuing public health concerns created by COVID-19.
Guidance for Continuing Students
Active F-1 status international students can enroll in online classes and continue to maintain valid status for the 2021-22 academic year from inside the U.S. or abroad.
Guidance for Initial Students
New or Initial international students must enter the U.S. and engage in a hybrid program, with some requirements for in-person learning in order to maintain valid F-1 status.
Students and advisors can obtain assistance from International Services through one of the following methods:
Yes. Consistent with the March 2020 guidance, for the 2021-22 academic year nonimmigrant students may remain in the United States to engage in a fully online program of study, or in a hybrid program of study, which consists of both in-person and online if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status. Students will be able to maintain their nonimmigrant status and not be subject to initiation of removal proceedings based on their online studies.
- No, students who are considered new students must be physically in the U.S. in order to maintain valid F-1 status. This includes students in transfer pending status.
- First-year students who are attending Adelphi for their first semester but are unable to obtain a visa in time, or enter the U.S. for the upcoming semester may enroll in online courses from their home country. A variety of courses will be available. These students will not be considered maintaining valid F-1 status and will need to continue their visa application process, however, in order to attend Adelphi in person for the next available semester.
- SEVP’s temporary guidance does not permit transfer students in Initial status to begin a new program remotely.
- Transfer students inside the United States must report to a DSO at their transfer-in school in person or using electronic means within 15 days of their program start
- For students outside the United States who are currently in Initial status in SEVIS with an “I-20 Issue Reason” of transfer, schools request a data fix when these students are ready to re-enter the United States to begin study.
Students should maintain a full course of study. If a student is unwilling to take online courses or participate in other alternate forms of study as provided in the school’s procedural adaptation plan to SEVP, they should request a temporary absence and be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal.
No, this change should have no impact. Schools may change their grading policies as a direct result of COVID-19. Schools should document any changes to their grading policies and be able to provide them to SEVP upon request, and schools should be able to verify that a student is making normal academic progress.
International Students are eligible to work on campus up to 20 hours per week. If the current on-campus employment opportunity has transitioned to remote work or the employment can be done through remote means, students may continue to engage in on-campus employment remotely. Schools should be able to explain how the students are providing services associated with the employment while not at the location of the employer.
- International students are not eligible to work off campus without authorization from USCIS or International Services. Any off campus employment without authorization would be considered a violation of status.
- Students who would like additional information for off campus employment as a result of COVID-19 with USCIS should refer to our website which includes information regarding the requirements, and application process for severe economic hardship employment with USCIS. Severe Economic Hardship Employment
Students may engage in CPT during their time abroad, provided:
- They are enrolled in a program of study in which CPT is integral to the program of study;
- Their DSO authorized CPT in advance of the CPT start date; and
- Either the employer has an office outside the United States or the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically
- An international student must be physically in the U.S. in order to file for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students who would like information on how to file for OPT should refer to our website which includes a students eligibility for OPT, the application process, employment categories, travel guidance, student reporting requirements, and important related links.
- Students should consult with USCIS for specifics regarding consideration for OPT.
Document and Status Information
- Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS
- Forms I-20 issued electronically or with electronic signatures—as permitted during the COVID-19 emergency—will remain valid until students have a need for an updated Form I-20.
- Once a school returns to normal operations, if students cannot or choose not to return to the United States to study, DSOs should terminate the records.
- Dependent on their school’s return to normal operations and any continuing travel restrictions, students should seek to return to the United States within 30 days of the next available session start date. SEVP also anticipates providing additional guidance after the COVID-19 emergency ends regarding a school’s return to normal Operations.
Students in this situation should contact their country’s embassy or consulate to identify options for passport extension or renewal. If students decide to depart the United States, they will not be eligible to apply for readmission until they renew their passport.
SEVP recognizes that some students may find it difficult to return home during the COVID-19 emergency because of diminished travel options. Students in this situation are encouraged to communicate with their DSO for guidance and to assess options for alternative study arrangements such as online classes during this time. DSOs should document in the student’s record any material information related to a student’s inability to leave the country due to COVID-19.
Travel and Visa Services
Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions and visa delays, students should refer to the U.S. Department of State for visa and travel updates and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
For specific information regarding travel as an international student, please visit our website: Travel as an International Student
Required Travel Documents
Students must present the following documents for entrance into the U.S.
A Valid initial status or travel endorsed continuing status Form I-20
- A Current Passport (valid for at least 6 months after the date of your reentry)
- A Valid F-1 visa
If you have an F-1 visa, your visa will not be canceled if you are studying from your home country and maintaining valid F-1 status.
Students who need to request a Travel Endorsement Signature should complete the “Request Travel Signature” student request located in the International Services Portal.
Visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates may be delayed and students should consult the instructions on their embassy or consulate website and apply early. Please review the Visa Appointment Wait Times and visit the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Travelers Prohibited from Entry
The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Cultural Affairs Visa and Travel News updated guidance regarding established restrictions and a national interest determination regarding students travelling to the U.S.
International student travelers who have a valid F-1 visa or who have a valid ESTA authorization should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception.
Effective August 1, 2021, students with valid F-1 visa intending to begin or continue an academic program do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.