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Foreign students attending institutions and universities that only offer classes completely online will have to return to their countries.

The Immigration Office, ICE, recently announced changes that include requiring F-1 and M-1 International Student Visa holders to leave the country if the educational institutions where they study offer exclusively virtual or online educational programs. In this regard, students with F-1 and M-1 visas currently active in the U.S. and enrolled in such programs will be required to leave the country, or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in legal status, if not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

In view of this, it is important to inform that International Students have this summer semester, an exception to be studying completely online due to the coronavirus pandemic and not continue in this way, within the virtual program or online, due to the early implementation of this recent measure by the Central Government, would be difficult to stay in the country.

F-Visa eligible students can take a maximum of one class or 3 hours of credit online.  Schools must certify their hybrid programs i.e. online and face-to-face classes through the I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Student Status” form to ensure that the student is not taking courses online only.

On the other hand, it should be noted that the F-1 Nonimmigrant Visa is for those who wish to pursue academic studies in the United States, that is, to attend a University or College, High School, Private School, Language Training Programs, among other Academic Institutions.

The M-1 Visa is granted to participate in non-academic or vocational studies and training at U.S. institutions.

It should also be noted that the Department of State made the decision not to grant Visas to Students enrolled in schools and/or programs entirely online during the fall semester.

Nor will Customs and Border Protection officials allow these students to enter the country in the fall even if they already have a valid visa.

The rules in this announcement will be published in the Federal Register and will operate for courses beginning in the fall.

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