Frequently Asked Questions for SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19

This document provides answers to frequently asked questions from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) stakeholders about the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)on SEVP-certified schools and F and M students.

Note: SEVP continues to actively monitor COVID-19 and provide up-to-date information to stakeholders, including designated school officials (DSOs) and F and M students. Due to the fluid nature of this situation, the answers in this document may be subject to change. Refer to for the most up-to-date version of this FAQ.


1. Nonimmigrant Students

1. Maintaining student records

2. Full course of study requirements and online learning

3. Employment

4. Student transfer

5. Student return to the United States

2. SEVP-certified Schools

1. Reporting school changes

3. Additional Resources

Nonimmigrant Students

Maintaining student records

1. Many F and M students may choose to travel home and complete the spring termremotely. Since they are still enrolled, do DSOs have to cancel their Forms I-20,“Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” if they are takingclasses outside of the United States? If their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) records remain in Active status, will students be subject to the five-month rule?

A. Under current conditions, if an active F student leaves the United States to complete the spring term online, their SEVIS record should remain in Active status and not be terminated. While the temporary measures related to COVID-19 are in place, students deemed to be maintaining status if they are making normal progress in their course of study. For that reason, the five-month temporary absence provision addressed in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(4) will not apply for students who remain in Active status.

SEVP will allow F and M students to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the limits stated in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v), even if they have left the United States and are taking the online classes elsewhere. This temporary provision is only in effect due to COVID-19 and only for schools that comply with the requirement to notify SEVP of any procedural changes within 10 business days.

Schools can find additional information about reporting procedural changes to SEVP in Broadcast Message: COVID-19 and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students.

2. Due to COVID-19, what is the requirement for Initial status students who have already arrived in the United States?

A. Initial students currently in the United States that have reported to their school should be made Active in SEVIS and follow the guidelines the school provides to all its F and M students related to COVID-19. If Initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country.

3. Does SEVP have any guidance for students who have been asked to move out of their university housing?

A. If students are required to leave campus, they can continue to study online—if possible—either inside or outside of the United States. If students remain in the United States, DSOs should update their address in SEVIS. If there are no online classes and the closure is temporary, students can find a place to live and return to class when the school opens. For scenarios regarding school procedures and online classes, refer to the COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders.

Full course of study requirements and online learning