ICE Rescinds Recent Guidance On Online Only Courses For F-1 And M-1 Students

In a significant development, ICE and DHS announced at a court hearing that they would be rescinding the July 7th Policy Directive, which would not have allowed F-1 and M-1 students to take a full course of study through online only classes for the Fall Semester. The announcement was made by U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs at a hearing for a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and MIT. The Harvard University/MIT lawsuit was one of at least 8 federal lawsuits brought by universities and states in opposing the policy directive.

With the recent guidance rescinded, schools will continue to follow the ICE guidance from March that permitted foreign students to take more online courses than normally allowed to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.


  • if a school closes temporarily without online instruction or other alternative learning procedures, the student can remain in active status in SEVIS so long as he or she intends to resume the course of study when classes resume;
  • if a school closes temporarily but offers online instruction or another alternative learning procedure, nonimmigrant students should participate in online or other alternate learning procedures and remain in active status in SEVIS. SEVP will allow F-1 and M-1 students to temporarily count online classes towards a full course of study in excess of the normally allowed limits.

We will continue to monitor the developments related to ICE’s policy on online classes, as well as the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on immigration, and will keep our readers updated.

If you have any questions regarding maintaining your status in the U.S., Schedule A Consultation With Immigration Lawyer Today. Our experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.

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