ICE Issues Further Clarification for New or Initially Enrolled Nonimmigrant Students Taking Online Courses During Fall 2020 Semester

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

What Happened?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new guidance for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the upcoming fall 2020 semester. 

Who Does This Impact?

ICE says that in accordance with its March 2020 guidance, “new” or “initially” enrolling students will not be allowed to study in the U.S. if their full course of study is 100% online. This clarification will not impact current students already enrolled at U.S. universities and colleges. 

Newly enrolling students can still come into the U.S. to study if their schools certify they will take a hybrid course of study that consists of at least one in-person course, subject to travel ban guidance and U.S. Embassies and Consulates reopening.  

Additionally, newly enrolling international students will not be forced to leave the U.S. if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and colleges and universities need to move from a hybrid instructional model to a fully remote course of study. 

How Are Envoy Global and GIA Responding?

Both Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) are following the situation closely and providing updates to clients as more details become available. As an F-1 or M-1 student, the primary resource for F or M status-related questions would be the university’s Designated School Official (DSO). The DSO will provide information on the university’s current operations in regard to online courses and the subsequent impact on maintenance of status. 

What Do I Need To Do Next?

GIA has advised that clients notify their students to contact their university’s DSO to discuss the impact on their program. Additional questions related to this update should be posted to the client’s legal team via the Envoy Communication Center. 

About the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program is a DHS program that provides government agencies with essential data related to nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors through Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In addition, SEVP provides approval and oversight to schools authorized to enroll F and M nonimmigrant students and gives guidance to both schools and students about the requirements for maintaining their status. 

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is the Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (, Envoy’s affiliated law firm. 

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.