USDHS Rescinds July 6 Guidance; Review Of March 2020 Guidance Impact on Fall 2020

USDHS Rescinds July 6 Guidance; Review Of March 2020 Guidance Impact on Fall 2020

On July 14, 2020, following a legal challenge by MIT and Harvard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) rescinded its July 6 directive and July 7 FAQ on F-1 students and online learning. 

As a result of this decision USDHS’s March 2020 guidance and Spring term FAQs will continue to apply.  Based on the Spring guidance, here are the initial takeaways for F-1 students for the Fall 2020 term:

·      continuing MIT students in “ACTIVE” SEVIS status may remain in or enter the U.S. and pursue in-person, hybrid, or fully online coursework; 

·      continuing MIT students in “ACTIVE” SEVIS status may continue their studies from abroad while maintaining SEVIS status;

·      transfer students, currently inside the U.S. in F-1 status who will begin their program of study at MIT in the Fall 2020 term—including those moving from high school or another university degree program to MIT—can remain in the U.S. and pursue in-person, hybrid, or fully online coursework;

·      students inside the U.S. with pending Change of Status applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may remain in the U.S. and pursue studies while their application is pending if allowed under the terms of the transition from the current visa status (students with a Change of Status application pending should be in contact with their ISO Advisor); and

·      newly enrolled students may pursue full-time coursework online/remotely from abroad. 

We are still evaluating whether newly enrolled students with “Initial Attendance” or “Transfer Pending” Forms I-20, who are currently outside the U.S., will be permitted to enter the U.S. if their programs are fully or mostly online.  We will update our guidance on this issue as soon as possible.  

The guidance does NOT require issuance of a new Form I-20 to verify enrollment status for Fall 2020; though MIT is reviewing whether a new Form I-20 must be issued to New Students to reflect the change in the Fall 2020 semester arrival date (changed from September 8, 2020 to August 31, 2020). 

USDHS’s guidance on these topics continues to evolve and there are still some questions for which colleges/universities are seeking further clarification. We understand that USDHS/Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) may provide new information, in which case, we will update the community once we receive and are able to review it.   

Please note that given visa processing delays, travel restrictions, and students’ individual circumstances and needs, there may be other factors restricting students’ ability and/or desire to enter the U.S. for Fall 2020.  

We know this has been an anxious time for the MIT international student community. We want to be sure we provide you with as clear an understanding as possible of visa/immigration matters so that you can make an informed decision about the fall.

We look forward to being back in touch soon with updates on Fall 2020 guidance and scheduling of a virtual forum with ISO Staff in the near term.