On March 12, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided NAFSA with the following statement:

“SEVP is committed to remaining flexible in allowing schools to make temporary procedural adaptations so nonimmigrant students can continue to make normal forward progress in their program of study. They can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. SEVP will provide updated guidance as the scope and length of this situation becomes more clear.”

On March 13, 2020, SEVP published a follow-up to this statement and 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.

Link to the March 13, 2020 follow-up guidance on ice.gov

SEVP also developed an Optional Coronavirus School Reporting Template that you can choose to use to report your COVID-19 procedural changes to SEVP.  (March 13, 2020)

The text of the March 13, 2020 guidance is reproduced below.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Homeland Security Investigations
National Security Investigations Division
Student and Exchange Visitor Program

COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders

March 13, 2020

As follow up to the guidance issued by SEVP on Monday, March 9, 2020, concerning the COVID-19 situation, there have been inquiries concerning the proper status for students in SEVIS who may have face slightly different scenarios related to emergency procedures implemented by SEVP-certified learning institutions:

Scenario 1: A school completely closes and does not have online courses or other alternate learning procedures.

Response: If a school closes temporarily without online instruction or other alternative learning procedures, the students should remain in active status in SEVIS so long as the students intend to resume their course of study when classes resume. This is similar to short-term breaks in the school calendar when classes are not in session. Schools must notify SEVP of COVID-19 procedural changes within 10 business days.

Scenario 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

Response: If a school closes temporarily but offers online instruction or another alternative learning procedure, nonimmigrant students should participate in online or other alternate learning procedures and remain in active status in SEVIS. Schools must notify SEVP of COVID-19 procedural changes within 10 business days. Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP will allow F-1 and/or M-1 students to temporarily count online classes towards 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). This temporary provision is only in effect for the duration of the emergency and in accordance with the procedural change documents filed in a timely manner to SEVP.

Scenario 3: A school temporarily stops in-person classes but implements online or other alternate learning procedures and the nonimmigrant student departs the United States

Response: If a school closes temporarily but offers online instruction or another alternative learning procedure, nonimmigrant students should participate in online or other alternate learning procedures and remain in active status in SEVIS. Schools must notify SEVP of COVID-19 procedural changes within 10 business days. Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP will allow F-1 and/or M-1 students to temporarily count online classes towards 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 from elsewhere. This temporary provision is only in effect for the duration of the emergency and in accordance with the procedural change documents filed in a timely manner to SEVP.

NOTE: Due to the fluid nature of this difficult situation, this guidance may be subject to change. SEVP will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will adjust its guidance as needed.