The majority of our international students at Luther Seminary are F-1 visa holders. Due to COVID-19, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security instituted a temporary exemption regarding the online study policy for the spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted F and M students to take more online courses than normally allowed for purposes of maintaining a full course of study to maintain their F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.
For the fall 2020 semester, SEVP is modifying these temporary exemptions, which includes the following modification: Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.
Luther Seminary unequivocally continues its support of and advocacy for our international students. The Student Affairs team is already planning meetings with our international community and members of the ELT to discuss our next steps.
The Office of International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) remains in close contact with our SEVP field representative as well as our professional organizations and will continue to communicate directly with our international students. We invite your prayers for all affected international students and institutions in the United States.
The official press release, “SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester,” is located on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.