The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has expanded the guidance given in March 2020 for the 2022-23 academic year. This guidance allows specific continuing F and M students to sign up for more distance learning (e.g., online classes) than normally allowed. This accommodation was made to help to qualify foreign national students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Temporary Accommodations for Certain F-1 or M-1 Continuing Students | March 2020 Guidance
In particular, SEVP is allowing colleges and universities to temporarily have to continue with F and M students enrolled exclusively in distance learning (e.g., online classes). This guidance only applies to continuing students who were invalid F-1 or M-1 status as of 9th March 2020.
This is a stark change from the standard rule, which generally prohibits F-1 students from signing up for more than one distance-learning course per semester. M-1 students normally are not permitted to count any distance learning toward the full course of study requirement.
Widespread vaccination efforts and new treatments have, to a degree, reduced the dangers presented by COVID-19. However, we still may have some way to go before the pandemic is behind us. Giving schools the flexibility to lessen person-to-person contact should help to further reduce the spread of this virus.