USDHS/ICE Guidance: In Response to COVID-19, F status 5-month Temporary Absence Rule Will Not Apply
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), which oversees the F visa regulations, posted on March 23, 2020 an updated “Frequently Asked Questions” to its website. In this new guidance, USICE states that due to COVID-19 “the 5-month temporary absence provision … will not apply for students who remain in Active status.”
As all MIT students remain enrolled as full-time students while completing their Spring 2020 semester subjects online, whether inside the U.S. or abroad, MIT students are considered to be maintaining their Active F-1 visa status throughout the Spring semester.
As a result, F-1 students who leave or have left the U.S., continue and complete their Spring 2020 semester online, and return to the U.S. in Fall 2020 to continue their program of studies, will be considered to be maintaining status even if they will return to the U.S. more than 5 months from their date of departure from the U.S. Students would, therefore, be considered maintaining their eligibility for F-1 Curricular Practical Training and F-1 Optional Practical Training during this period outside the U.S.
To read a full copy of the USICE FAQ on this topic, please see Question #1 on the FAQ:
REMINDER: Students who are completing their program of study in Spring or Summer 2020 terms, and wish to apply for F-1 post-completion Optional Practical Training, must still be physically inside the U.S. to submit, and for USCIS to receive, the OPT application. There have been no changes to date on regulations or timing of OPT applications.
The ISO knows this has been a major concern for all F-1 students, and we are pleased with the USICE’s support of international students during this unique time.
If any questions arise, please contact your ISO Advisor Point-of-Contact.