The Widener Library in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (File photo: AP)
Washington (People’s Daily) - The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that, international students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses.
The move may affect thousands of foreign students who come to the US to attend universities or participate in training programs, as well as non-academic or vocational studies.
According to its news release, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States," adding, "The US 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 US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."
The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US should consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction. There's an exception for universities using a hybrid model, such as a mix of online and in-person classes.
ICE also requires schools 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 online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load.
Universities nationwide are beginning to make the decision to transition to online courses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At Harvard University, for example, all course instruction will be delivered online, including for students living on campus. For international students, that opens the door that will make them have to leave the US.