July 6 ICE Guidance on Fall 2020 Enrollment Requirements

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued guidance last March 18, which allowed F students to maintain their immigration status while taking online courses from inside or outside of the U.S., even if they are out of the U.S. for more than five months. This COVID-19 related guidance was extended to the summer academic term.

Updated guidance for the fall semester was released on July 6.

The major impact of this guidance affects students who attend a school that has decided to go fully online in the fall. This is not the CSU model for Fall 2020.

Colorado State University has opted to offer a mix of online and face-to-face courses in the Fall, which is known as a hybrid model. Students will be permitted to take more than one online course as determined by their academic advisers and faculty.

However, students should try to take face-to-face courses when possible or at minimum take one face-to-face class.

CSU international students taking classes in Fort Collins this Fall:

  • May take more than three credit hours of online courses;
  • Must enroll in the required number of credits to be considered full-time (9 for graduate students and 12 for undergraduate students)
  • Must enroll in at least one credit of an in-person or hybrid course during the Fall 2020 semester; and
  • May not enroll in online-only courses.

Students who have returned to their home countries and plan to take courses online may do so.  We know that many students chose to go home during the spring and summer and that with travel and visa restrictions in place, it may be difficult or impossible to get back to CSU now.  Under the new guidance, CSU will have to “terminate” your SEVIS record since you will not be in the country studying.

When you are able to return to Fort Collins for face to face classes in a subsequent semester, we will issue you a new I-20, which will have a new SEVIS number. This will mean that you have to pay the government SEVIS I-901 fee again. It will also mean that your F-1 status will start anew. For students planning to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), this will mean that you will have to study for a minimum of two semesters more in the U.S. to qualify for OPT. If you have questions about your personal situation, write to ISSS@colostate.edu for personal attention and advice.

Since this guidance is new, ISSS is communicating with ICE to clarify certain points and we will provide updates as we learn more.

The other big part of this guidance is that ISSS will have to create a new I-20 for every F-1 student with a notation about being a hybrid school. The purpose of this is for State Department officials who issue visas and Customs and Border Protection agents who admit students into the United States to understand the model of instruction that CSU will offer and that it is okay to issue a visa or admit the student. The ISSS staff will need to organize this enormous task and begin sending out new I-20s electronically that F-1 students will need to print out, sign, and keep with their old I-20s, passport, etc.

ISSS will also be sharing information about the new ICE procedures with CSU faculty and academic advisers so that they understand how best to work with students on class registration.

June 22 Presidential Proclamation Establishing New Visa and Entry Restriction for H-1B, H-2B, L, Certain J Visas, and Dependents

President Trump issued a presidential proclamation on June 22 instituting a visa and entry restriction on the issuance of new nonimmigrant visas. The new restriction applies to any foreign national who wants to enter the United States on any of the following visa types:

  1. H-1B (temporary specialty occupation employee);
  2. H-2B (non-agricultural temporary worker);
  3. L-1 (intercompany transferee executive, manager, or specialized knowledge employee); or
  4. J-1 (Exchange Visitor) in the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel categories. (This restriction does not apply to the research scholar, professor, student, student intern, specialist, and short-term scholar categories, which are those sponsored by CSU.)

and who

  1. is outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation;
  2. does not have a nonimmigrant visa stamp in their passport that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
  3. does not have an official travel document such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document (for example based on a pending Adjustment of Status application – Form I-485) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued after the effective date.

This proclamation lasts until December 31, 2020.

Note that students in the United States may still change status to H-1B. Also, current H-1Bs in the United States may extend. Please contact ISSS if you have specific questions.