This blog is regarding the recent announcement by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the continuation of F1 visas for students studying in the US and taking fully online classes for the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic.
As per the regulation, students are not allowed to take fully online courses in the fall semester while in the US and they have to return to their home country before the semester begins. After returning, they can continue to pursue their semester online from their home country but they cannot return to the US until the university resumes in-person instruction. This does not mean that their F1 visa has been cancelled. It means that the embassy will not renew the F1 visa until the university resumes in-person instruction.
Students will not lose any credits earned in the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. They will be required to take a break for only one semester, and again resume their studies in spring 2021. Also, this will not affect CPT or OPT in any manner.
The regulation also states that as an alternative, the student can either transfer to another school with in-person instruction or adopt a hybrid model with a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. This decision will not hamper the current visa process for students aspiring to join next year or those who have deferred their fall 2020 admissions to spring 2021.
New students, who have deferred their admission to spring 2021, can continue with their visa process since it is likely that in-person instruction will resume by January 2021. However, if the spring semester is also changed to online instruction, you will not be able to go to the US. In that case, you will have to defer your admission to fall 2021 and accordingly get your visas reissued for fall 2021.