U.S. immigration and customs enforcement has announced that in order to stay in the country for the fall 2020 semester, international students must take personal classes at their school. Students who remain in the U.S. but take full online courses may experience “immigration implications, including but not limited to initiating removal procedures.”
“There will still be accommodations to provide flexibility for schools and non-immigrant students, but as many institutions reopen across the country, it is a consistent necessity to resume the carefully balanced protection implemented by federal regulations,” he added. the announcement of ICE.
New students enrolling in schools that offer full online programs will not receive visas per ICE. Students already enrolled in such schools must leave or leave the country. Eight percent of U.S. colleges plan an online-only semester, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, including Harvard and Bowdoinalthough some of those schools plan to invite fewer students back to campus.
Students attending schools that offer a hybrid model are allowed to stay in the US, provided they do not follow a full online course offering. Schools must confirm to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that students “take the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their education.”
Meanwhile, international students staying in their home countries will only maintain their “Active Status” and take an online course remotely if their school is online only.
At least 23 percent of U.S. colleges plan to offer some type of hybrid model, including the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and Northwest. Schools that will be online must notify SEVP by July 15, while those using a hybrid option must work out their plans by August 1.
Some institutions have identified the option to switch to full online education as an advantage of their hybrid model. Such a move may confuse many students under ICE’s new policy; Any student who switches to an online-only program during the semester should either leave or switch at the time, according to the announcement.
F-1 visas, which allow international students to study full-time in the U.S., typically make holders count alone one online lesson per term towards their field of study. After the pandemic of COVID-19 forced colleges across the country to move all instructions online, SEVP admitted temporary exemptions to that policy, which allows international students to continue taking multiple distance courses without risking losing their visas.
The new regulation is one of many recent actions the Trump administration has taken to curb immigration amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, President Trump ordered immigration officials to refuse entry tickets to a range of visas for immigrant workers, including H-1Bs.