According to one of the spokespersons of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), students from outside the US will have to continue with their studies in online mode during Spring 2021.
Federal guidance issued in March 2020 through the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) allowed international students with F or M student visas to continue their learning online, with no impact on their immigration status.
International students are otherwise required to study in the US in order to not lose their student visa status. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, international students who were enrolled at a US university in March 2020 can continue their courses from their home countries.
No official guidance has been issued on the official website of ICE as of yet although most organisations and higher education institutions have announced that the mode of learning will remain online during the Spring semester 2021.
New international students accepted to universities for the 2021 Spring semester who are in the USA and hold valid student visas will be able to take up all of their courses in online mode as long as they do not leave the country before their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records are activated.
First-year students who were accepted to universities after March 9, 2020, will have to enrol in at least one in-person course.
Those new international students enrolled in March 2020 who are not in the US and wish to enter the country with an initial Form I-20 may not be allowed to take courses online. They will be permitted only if they hold a student visa and enrol in at least one face-to-face course.
In cases where the university is fully operating online, no Form I-20 will be issued for new students outside the US.
Stay tuned for the latest news and updates on foreign education.