US extends guidance on online learning for int’l students for 2022-23

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Good news for students planning to study in America: the US government has extended a guidance issued in March 2020 that allows some international students enrolled at US colleges and universities to continue to take more online classes than permitted before the pandemic.

A notice dated April 18, 2022 by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance for the 2022-23 academic year. 

The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a US school on March 9, 2020, and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the US or abroad, it said.  

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Under the guidance, international students can remain in the US if they are engaged in a fully online programme of study if they have not otherwise violated the terms of their nonimmigrant status. Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Study in America: Understanding rules surrounding online learning

Under the March 2020 guidance, active F and M students can temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study for the 2021-22 academic year.

The March 2020 guidance applies to continuing F and M nonimmigrant students with valid F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status on March 9, 2020, including those previously enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the US and seeking to re-enter the country for the 2021-22 academic year. 

Students actively enrolled at an institution in the US on March 9, 2020, who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the US, even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning.

Conversely, new or Initial F and M students who were not previously enrolled in a programme of study on March 9, 2020, cannot study in America as a nonimmigrant student for the 2021-22 academic year if their course is 100% online

New students can enter the US if they are engaged in a hybrid programme, with some requirements for in-person learning. 

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