new f1 visa rules for fall 2020 sevp ice m1 visa
USA Visa

New F1 Visa Student Rules Proposed – Pack Your Bags and Leave if Your School is 100% Online!

Breaking News – SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the fall 2020 semester. Here’s the official press release.

Temporary Exemption that was announced earlier in the year is now modified.

Note – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.

The Keyword here is Plans to Publish for Fall 2020 Semester.  

Running Updates & Impacts:

  • Universities are exploring solutions – Looking for Creative ways to need hybrid criteria.
  • Students stuck outside the USA and if they graduate in December & school is 100% online, what happens to their OPT?
  • If your college is 100% online and if you are forced to leave, and graduate in Dec 2020, then you can’t apply for OPT as well!

Quick Q&A with a DSO About F1 Students Attending Classes Online

Click Here to Join the Telegram Group About F1 Visa & Fall 2020 Online Classes >>

New F1 Visa Rules & Changes Proposed by ICE:

Please note this is for the Fall 2020 Semester.

Option 1: Schools are 100% Online

  • Are you on F1 Visa or M1 Visa Student Visa?
  • Is your school operating 100% Online?
  • Then you HAVE two Options.
    • Transfer to Another school that offers in-person classes.
    • Leave the Country (for Fall 2020 Semester).

Yes, you read it right – Leave the Country!

Option 2 – Schools are Operating with In-Person Classes

  • No Changes
  • Follow existing Federal regulations
  • Students may take a maximum of one class or three credits online.

Option 3 – Schools Operating in Hybrid Model

  • Hybrid Model – Mix of Online and In-Person Classes
  • Students can Take More than One Online Class
  • Schools may have to issue New I-20 that program is not 100% Online

This is breaking news, and I’m analyzing and getting opinions from DSO and Immigration Attorney. Please Stay Tuned for updates to this page.

new f1 visa m1 visa rules online classes not allowed

ICE Just released these new New Temporary Rules, and all DSO’s are scrambling to see how this will impact their students.

Schools Should Report to SEVP By July 15, 2020

  • Colleges and Universities should report to SEVP by July 15, 2020, if they will be offering entirely online classes or will not reopen by July 15, 2020
    • What if Schools have not yet decided? COVID-10 is changing so rapidly, and how can schools choose in 10 days?
  • If Schools are not entirely online, operational plans should be updated by August 1, 2020

New F1 Visa rules - School Reporting Requirements - 1

New F1 Visa rules - School Reporting Requirements - 2

DSO Should Issue New I-20’s

For all students attending schools in the United States this fall 2020, designated school officials (DSOs) must issue new Forms I-20 to each student certifying that the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. DSOs must indicate this information in the Form I-20 Remarks field in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Schools must update and reissue all Forms I-20 to reflect these changes in program enrollment and student information within 21 business days of publication of this Broadcast Message, on Aug. 4, 2020. When issuing new Forms I-20, please prioritize students who require new visas and are outside of the country.

I can’t believe if any DSO or school is equipped to issues 1000’s of I-20 in 21 business days’ time. There are universities with few thousand international students!


Questions and Answers about New F1 Visa Rules

Q1. Are these New Rules are Exemptions for F1 Students?

ICE gave exemptions in early 2020 when schools were shutting down due to COVID-19. Those exemptions allowed F1 and M1 students to take 100% classes online for Spring and Summer of 2020. Now, those exemptions are modified with these new rules.

Refer to the Screenshot – SEVP made changes between Jan 2020 and Mar 2020.

Now, July 2020 updates (released today will apply for Fall 2020 semester):

f1 visa exemptions covid-19

Q2. What does this mean? When does one have to leave the country?

  • You don’t have to do anything as of today.
  • You don’t have to pack and leave the country today.
  • If your school is 100% online for the Fall Semester, then this would impact you.
  • All DSO’s are talking in the backend, and something will be announced from your school.

Q3. How Can Universities Handle This is this rule is Implemented

  • I have seen email confirmation from at least one Day 1 CPT University that they will offer In-Person Classes.
  • Cal State System – They Confirmed Classes are 100% Online for Fall 2020
  • The University of California System goes 100% Online for Fall 2020
  • That’s just Two systems. There are 100’s of Colleges and Universities. It’s not easy to only offer in-person classes to just a select few students.
  • Can schools offer in-person classes just for International Students? Would they put their faculty and staff and international students at risk of infections?
  • These are questions being asked by University Presidents and everyone involved in the International Student Community.

Additional Resources:

If this is rule is implemented as stated, it will have devastating effects on U.S. International students. I hope this will not be applied, and exceptions are given to take classes online until this pandemic is controlled.


I will be posting updates and adding commentary as I hear new updates.

Please share the news and stay engaged.

Register for Webinars & Updates:

  • I will be hosting Live Webinars (with DSO and Attorneys)
  • I will be sending updates when there is clarity.
  • Do you want to be the first to know and attend Zoom directly?
  • Register Here to Get Notified


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  1. Hi
    I have completed 21 credits. Now I came to India. Now I am planning to take 6 credits in online in FALL 2020 trimester. Next year I am planning to come back and complete my rest of the credits. Is that would be a problem? Can I come back to USA? My university said they are going to create a new SEVIS for me.

    1. This is one of the issues that may impact you.

      If New SEVIS ID is created – Your clock for OPT & CPT will be reset. Plus, you may potentially need to get new visa stamp by attending the interview. Ask these questions to your DSO. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of options for you. So, see if they have found a way to avoid generating New SEVIs ID.

  2. I am doing my second graduate degree in a hybrid university ( lessons are online and there was in person attendance once a month on Saturday’s pre Covid 19, they cancelled the in person attendance requirement after Covid 19) The university programme offers CPT to allow me to work while I am studying. How does this new rule affect me? Do I need to resign from work

  3. Extremely irresponsible rule passed by the US govt. As on date the students will be affected; many may pull out as well. Has the administration thought about the impact on the US schools in the long run? Will they survive with students pulling out? If the US government keeps applying restrictive rules on immigrant students, are the parents foolish enough to keep sending students there? Also there will be an impact on US economy – on rents and other expenditure.

  4. What about students who have completed all their course requirements and are taking MS thesis research credits on reduced course load to defend their thesis in the fall 2020? Any update on this please!?

    1. I read a DSO say that Ph.D. or Research work that doesn’t have course requirements would be OK. But, your DSO is the right person to ask and they will not have an answer yet.

  5. I am currently in India and I have already completed the required 33 credits to graduate but I took 1 extra credit for fall 2020 as I needed some extra time to complete my project. I already took one online class in fall 2019, does this rule has any effect on me now, can I come back to USA ?

      1. I was supposed to come back to usa by the end of March but the flight got cancelled due to the lockdown, so instead of graduating in may I decided to extend it to fall 2020 so I can come back after the flight are back on

  6. Most PhD student dont have online classes anyway.. What will happen to students who are pursuing PhD? Will this order apply to them too?

  7. Hello,

    This news is applicable to only “ONLINE” classes. My university is offering “Remote/Live classes” via Zoom. Should I be worried?

    Thank you.

    1. What do u mean by remote/ live ??? Both are same, it’s online. You have to be in person classes ie, u should be physically present in the classroom.

    1. No impact as far I know for OPT. I don’t know if it will impact CPT. I got an update via a student from University of Cumberlands that they will host in-person class and convert to Hybrid Model.

  8. What happens if university starts inperson for now but change to 100% online after one or two months.

    1. That’s one option DSO’s are discussing within NAFSA forums. It’s unknown as of now.

    2. If a school changes its operational stance mid-semester, and as
      a result a nonimmigrant student switches to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student
      changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load,
      schools are reminded that nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to
      take a full course of study through online classes. If nonimmigrant students find themselves in
      this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their
      nonimmigrant status such as transfer to a school with in-person instruction

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