Implications of the new SEVP rule for existing and prospective F1 students
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to engulf the world unabated, current and prospective international students with US dreams have a lot to watch out for especially after the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has announced temporary curbs and exemptions. While no one can predict what the future holds, as concerned counsellors, we wish to help you make the right choice by bringing you up to speed with the short term and long term implications of these exemptions on the ensuing semesters: Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Fall 2021.
ACTIVE STUDENTS ALREADY IN THE US
F-1 and M-1 students will not be permitted to stay in USA for the fall semester, in the event of the entire semester being offered in the online mode by the University.
As a result, students have been instructed to either depart the country or seek transfer to a school offering in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. Not complying may lead to immigration consequences.
While these are confusing state of affairs, here are the options you can avail of:
- One option would be to take a break (or sabbatical) (if permitted by the concerned university). Please note that a break for more than 5 months will require you to again apply for a new I-20 and new SEVIS record as well as attend the university for 9 months to avail of CPT and OPT.
- If the university were to offer a hybrid model of learning or on-campus study, then you may proceed with your original plans as it wouldn’t affect you.
- Assuming, the fall semester is moved fully online midstream due to a second wave of the pandemic then you have no choice but to leave the country once the course becomes online.
- There is a high chance that the University might offer a 1 course on-campus to make the course a “hybrid” model so that there is not a huge exodus of students from the University.
PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS ENROLLED FOR THE FALL 2020 SEMESTER
In the event of the first semester being offered online, we would advise you to defer for the following reasons :
- As of now there is no clarity on whether the spring semester will also be offered online.
- Assuming you start the first term online and on-campus learning resumes in the second term you would be required to apply for Visa before you fly for the second term. Although at Collegepond, we have an exceptionally impressive record of visa success, in the rarest event of being denied a visa you will end up losing the first term fees.
- If the first semester is hybrid or on-campus, then you may go ahead, provided you get the visa. In this case, you will have to apply for emergency visa as issuance of regular visa is frozen as of now. Again, if the university decides to switch over to online model midway, then you will have no choice but to leave the country.
PROSPECTIVE SPRING 2021 STUDENTS
- We hope that a clearer picture will emerge by January 2021, as the election results would be out, and we can hope for more favorable disposition accorded to international students.
- We assume that vaccine may be in place and / or the universities would have adopted to the new normal way of imparting education.
- If the spring term (your first term) is also made online, then you may defer to Fall 2021, else continue in Spring 2021 provided you get the visa.
PROSPECTIVE FALL 2021 STUDENTS
- Life in all probability would have returned to normal by this time paving the way for resuming on-campus learning.
- If the universities continue to persist with the online model through Fall 2021 Semester then students are likely to explore alternative destinations, assuming US continues to grapple with the pandemic.
Considering the prevailing circumstances and the restrictions imposed on international students by the current US political dispensation such as the temporary ban on H-1B visas, most of the students may be prompted to explore other favorable avenues for pursuing their higher studies .
Though STEM students are not likely to be affected, non-STEM students would most certainly consider alternative options when it comes to choosing a study abroad destination.
If you are wondering about the right way forward or feeling indecisive, feel free to get in touch with us, so that we can help you with making the right decision, notwithstanding the prevailing uncertainties.
Stay safe, healthy, and hopeful and we are here to help you navigate through the turbulent times.