The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has announced that it will be rescinding its COVID-19 guidance and classroom attendance accommodations in view of the formal end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which was announced on April 10, 2023. These accommodations allowed students to take online classes and have these count towards the required full course of study beyond the existing regulatory limitations.
Students in F-1 Academic and M-1 Nonacademic or Vocational status will be allowed to complete the 2022-23 academic year under the COVID-19 accommodations through to the end of the 2023 summer semester. For the 2023-24 academic year, starting in the fall of 2023, F-1 and M-1 students will not be permitted to count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the applicable regulatory limits. These limits are that F-1 students may take no more than the equivalent of one online class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter to be counted toward the full course of study requirement and that no online classes may be considered to count toward an M-1 student’s full course of study requirement if such classes do not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination, or other purposes integral to completion of the class.
Initial or re-entering F-1 and M-1 students must enroll in programs that comply with these regulatory limits and designated school officials may not issue Forms I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status for students who are outside of the United States and plan to take classes for a program of study that contains online components in excess of these limits.
SEVP notes that F-1 and M-1 students will not be allowed to remain in the United States if they are enrolled in a “fully online” program of study. Students who have been studying remotely from abroad must return to the United States within 30 days of the next available session start date to begin the 2023-24 academic year.
F-1 students who are engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT) may work remotely and are not required to be present at an employer’s business premises or worksite. F-1 students should consult with their DSOs to ensure employer and any remote worksite addresses are correctly reflected in SEVIS and the Form I-983. The rescission of the F-1 and M-1 temporary COVID-19 accommodations will have an impact on F-1 students engaged in Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Such students may engage in full-time employment as soon as the first day of enrollment, provided such employment comprises of training that relates directly to the student’s major area of study and is an integral part of the school’s established curriculum. CPT participants who take classes through fully online programs, will be required to be physically present at their schools for the 2023-24 school year.
SEVP has made available a set of FAQs on this subject that can be accessed here: FAQs for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19 (ice.gov).