WASHINGTON, D.C. – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that international students, or nonimmigrant students within the United States, are prohibited from taking a full course of study through online classes. If they do, they risk losing their visa and being deported.
ICE’s decision argues that visa requirements for students have always been strict and taking online-only courses has been prohibited.
Additionally, even if international students elect to take in-person classes, there is no guarantee universities will be able to continue to offer them throughout the semester or year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICE says that if students find themselves in this situation, “they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.”
International students may have to leave their colleges if in-person classes are not an option for the fall semester.
Due to COVID-19, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters. The policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.
Harvard announced it is going to deliver all course instruction online and other universities are following suit, which creates a challenge for many pursuing their degrees in the U.S. from foreign countries.
Temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester include: