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Student Visas and COVID

On July 6, 2020, ICE issued a news release with new guidelines that would have been applied to all international students in F-1 and M-1 status by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Initially these guidelines would have required F-1 and M-1 students either take in-person classes at colleges and universities or depart from the U.S due to COVID.

Fortunately, on July 8, 2020, Harvard University and MIT filed a lawsuit against DHS and ICE to prevent the government from enforcing the new guidelines. As a result of this lawsuit, the government ultimately decided to rescind this new policy and cancelled guidelines that would have prohibiting students from taking fully online coursework. Currently, students can continue their online instruction without worrying about a negative affect on their status in the U.S.

Current State of Visas

Currently, students can apply for their M-1 and F-1 visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies provided appointments are available during the Coronavirus pandemic. On July 14, 2020, the Department of State announced the phased resumption of routine visa services. We are hopeful that more appointments will begin opening up which will allow students to apply and obtain their visas. To determine the operational status of a particular U.S. Consulate or Embassy, students must monitor their individual webpage to determine what services and appointments are available.

New Guidance by ICE

On July 24, 2020, ICE released new guidelines for students applying for future F-1 and M-1 visas. Pursuant to these guidelines, new or initial students who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be completely online will likely not be able to obtain a student visa for Fall 2020. The final decision will ultimately be made by consular officers. This guidance also indicates that nonimmigrant students in “new” or “initial” status after March 9, 2020 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a course of study if it is 100 percent online, while a mix of hybrid instruction should be enough to obtain a visa. Students should keep these guidelines in mind when applying for their visas in the future.

We will continue to monitor any changes made by ICE and update our COVID Resource Center with additional information.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Great immigration lawyer, very professional, knowledgeable and experienced. Jacob always answered my questions, e-mails and calls; great customer service from him and everybody at his office. I highly recommend Jacob, probably the best immigration lawyer out there. Plinio Franca
★★★★★
I trust you know how much all of us at the Spreckels Organ Society appreciate your incredible generosity in providing legal assistance with the visas required by the international artists last year during our International Summer Organ Festival. We consider it an honor that you and your firm provided this service, and were delighted to publicize your firm in our concert materials. George H.
★★★★★
That's good news on the approval of our 3 executive L1A visas. You fought a tough RFE, but we won. We are pleased to be working with you. KB is also bringing passports tomorrow again to the US Embassy in Tashkent for visa processing. We look forward to his arrival to the US. Sarvar
★★★★★
I wanted to thank again and again for obtaining my E1 Treaty Trader visa for me. The process was not easy, especially since our trade was all based on Technology. You knew the law, and was able to craft an outstanding file to be presented to Immigration. We are now ready to take the business to the next level. Toda Raba
★★★★★
Thanks for helping me with my marriage-based immigration case. You were very accessible - taking my calls, returning my messages and emails promptly. You answered all my questions. I was most impressed and relieved that you attended the immigration interview with me and my wife. You made the whole process streamline and simple. You really know your stuff, and you're a nice, friendly guy as well. Shane P.