ICE’s master page of COVID-19 guidance contains links to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) COVID-19 guidance under “Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools," including links to:
SEVP COVID-19 Guidance Documents
January 31, 2020. Broadcast Message 2001-05: 2019 Novel Coronavirus and F and M nonimmigrants. SEVP's first in a series of Coronavirus guidance messages.
March 9, 2020. Broadcast Message 2003-01: COVID-19 and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Students. Provides guidance on potential procedural adaptations for F and M nonimmigrant students, including adaptations to online coursework policies.
March 12, 2020. SEVP's Optional Coronavirus School Reporting Template. Optional template that you can choose to use to report your school's COVID-19 procedural changes to SEVP.
March 13, 2020. COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders. SEVP follow-up to its March 9, 2020 guidance, identifying three common scenarios related to emergency procedures implemented by SEVP-certified schools: 1) A school completely closes and does not have online courses or other alternate learning procedures; 2) A school temporarily stops in-person classes but implements online or other alternate learning procedures and the nonimmigrant student remains in the United States; and 3) A school temporarily stops in-person classes but implements online or other alternate learning procedures and the nonimmigrant student departs the United States.
SEVP COVID-19 FAQs
March 25, 2020. Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19. This document provides answers to frequently asked questions from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) stakeholders about the impact of COVID-19 on SEVP-certified schools and F and M students. SEVP regularly updates this FAQ. Check back frequently to see any updated versions. Originally posted on March 20, 2020. Last updated March 25, 2020. Particularly helpful FAQs include:
5-Month Rule. Many F and M students may choose to travel home and complete the spring term remotely. Since they are still enrolled, do DSOs have to cancel their Forms I-20 if they are taking classes outside of the United States? If their SEVIS records remain in Active status, will students be subject to the five-month rule? "A. Under current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the spring term online, their SEVIS record should remain in Active status and not be terminated. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status... SEVP will allow F and M students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere. This temporary provision is only in effect due to COVID-19 and only for schools that comply with the requirement to notify SEVP of any procedural changes within 10 business days."
Course Cancellations. Our school has switched to fully online instruction but not all courses will be offered; some courses will be canceled due to inability to deliver via online means. Will students be excused from meeting full course of study requirements if the classes they need are not being offered? "A. Yes, full course of study requirements can be waived as a direct result of the impact from COVID-19. This information should be reported in a school’s procedural change documents submitted to SEVP, as described in Broadcast Message: COVID-19 and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students. If this is a material change to previously submitted documents, schools should resubmit those documents as part of their submission to SEVP."
Electronically sending I-20s to students. On March 25, 2020, SEVP updated its COVID-19 FAQ document to allow DSOs to send scanned versions of physically or electroncally signed Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. It also included the new FAQ in Broadcast Message 2003-03 (March 26, 2020). Electronic Form I-20 issuance. Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms? "A. Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes." What methods can DSOs use to sign and send Forms I-20? "A. SEVP has identified the following methods to sign and send the Form I-20:
- Email a scanned version of the physically signed Form I-20;
- Email a digitally signed Form I-20 using electronic signature software; or
- Email a digitally signed Form I-20 that contains a digitally reproduced copy of a physical signature."
"Only approved principal designated school officials (PDSOs) and DSOs may physically sign or input their own digital signature to the Form I-20..."
Read the entire FAQ, and check back often for any updates!