CHARLOTTE, N.C. — ICE announced Monday in a news release that nonimmigrant students (both F-1 and M-1) in the United States on student visas will not be allowed to stay in the country if their respective colleges or programs turn to online-only course work this fall 2020 semester.
Wednesday, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte addressed the matter, saying the university expects to be able to offer in-person and hybrid classes to enable all international students to maintain their visa status.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (also known as SEVP) stated that the U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students in online-only courses, nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit them to enter the country.
Nonimmigrant F-1 students, in the states pursuing academic coursework, are permitted to stay in the country if their school is adopting a “hybrid model," such as what UNC Charlotte is planning.
This means courses are broken down into a combination of in-person and online work. The schools providing this type of schooling must certify to SEVP through the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.
Basically, this guarantees the Department of Homeland Security that the students aren't taking solely online courses this fall. It's important to note, according to SEVP’s press release, this is not an option available to all F-1 students.
F-1 students attending schools that continue with normal in-person classes or programs are bound to that. The SEVP is only permitting those foreign students to take a maximum of one online class (three credit hours). If in-person courses change to online-only after beginning, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System must be informed and updated within 10 days of the change.
In a statement explaining any plans to modify exemptions for SEVP in the upcoming fall semester, UNC Charlotte said:
"UNC Charlotte plans to offer instruction this fall using a combination of in-person, hybrid and remote learning classes. We have approximately 1,000 enrolled international students and know that fewer than 100 of those may be impacted by the recent modifications to the Student and Exchange Visitor program (SEVP) exemptions issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We plan to reach out directly to our impacted students and expect to be able to offer them in-person and hybrid classes that will enable all international students to maintain their visa status."
If you have any questions regarding these modifications to SEVPs temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students during the COVID-19 emergency, please text WCNC Charlotte at (704)329-3600.