DHS Reverses Restrictions on Foreign Students
On July 14, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), rescinded its July 6, 2020 policy prohibiting F-1 and M-1 students from remaining in the U.S. to participate in online-only educational programs for the Fall 2020 semester. The reversal in policy came in response to lawsuits challenging the restrictions, led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In rescinding the restrictions, ICE has reverted to its March guidance issued in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, and has updated its associated SEVP COVID-19 FAQs. This guidance permits F-1 and M-1 students to remain in the U.S. while completing courses online. While ICE could again attempt to advance restrictions in the weeks and months ahead, in the interim:
- F-1 students are permitted to remain in the U.S. even if enrolled in a full-time course of study that is conducted entirely online
- Full course load requirements for F-1 students may be waived if a student is unable to take the full course load due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Students participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT may continue to work from home as long as the employer is able to monitor their work remotely
- The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is collaborating with DHS agencies to determine whether students may apply for OPT work authorization from outside the U.S.
Gibney will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as additional guidance is released. If you have any questions about this alert, please contact your Gibney representative or email firstname.lastname@example.org.