International students can’t stay in US if their colleges go online-only, ICE says – CNET

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New ICE guidelines say international students will need to transfer to a university offering in-person instruction or risk potential deportation.

James Martin/CNET

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US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that international students whose universities remain online-only in the fall are required to transfer schools or leave the US. This poses a dilemma for some students, as many universities plan to continue online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic

ICE, which oversees the US Student Exchange and Visitor Program and issues foreign students academic and vocational visas, said in its new guidelines that “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.” 

ICE said international students who are already in the US and are planning to take online classes in the fall will need to transfer to a university offering in-person instruction or risk potential deportation. If students choose to leave the US, ICE said they can continue online learning from their home country. 

The agency’s preexisting regulations ban a full course load of online classes, but ICE allowed international students to finish their spring semester remotely because of the pandemic. Under the updated guidelines, students planning on attending schools that use the “hybrid model,” part online and part in-person instruction, may be allowed to stay in the US for the fall semester if their university files with the agency beforehand. 

ICE’s new guidelines come at a time when many schools are grappling with how to reopen after switching to remote learning in the spring. Harvard University said on Monday that it’ll let 40% of undergraduates on campus but continue online classes. California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, said in May that classes across its 23 campuses will primarily be virtual for the fall semester.

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