Yesterday (June 6), the government announced that international students would not be allowed to remain in the United States if the secondary institution that they are attending switches to online-only classes this upcoming Fall. For those who fail to follow these set of rules, the risk the chance of being deported.
“The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency stated.
The agency continued:
“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. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
The new rules are being implemented as several secondary universities have decided to switch their courses online this upcoming semester, while America struggles with controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they also come as part of the administration’s attempt to remove immigrants and stop immigration to the United States.
“The Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to stop all immigration to the United States,” Stephen Yale-Loeher, an advisor to the National Foundation for American Policy said, alluding to Trump’s June 22 proclamation that barred foreign-born professionals from entering the country and prevented entry of their family members. The declaration also included a plan, that according to Forbes, if implemented, would force many long-time H-1B visa holders out of America. “Families are operated, and employers can’t bring in needed workers. These latest actions are hurting, not helping, our economy.”
Just weeks later, the administration announced the new visa mandate for international students. According to the Institute of International Education, just in the 2018-2019 academic school year alone, international students represented over 5% of the higher education population.
Students participating in hybrid courses, online and in-person, are allowed to take more than one. The same cannot be said for those attending normal in-person classes. Those students are “bound by existing federal regulations,” which means that they can only take up to one class online or three credit hours.
The agency’s spokesperson noted that the new regulations “should not affect students participating in OPT.” OPT is the optional practical training program that lets F-1 students that have earned their degrees to stay in America for up to one year to work in the field relevant to their study.
As far as colleges and universities go, schools are required by the agency to “update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load.”