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, Immigration and Customs Enforcement made this announcement on July 6.
This move may affect thousands of international students who come to the country to attend universities or participate in training programs, as well as non-academic or vocational studies, reports CNN.
Universities across the USA are increasingly thinking about going for online courses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, just a day earlier Harvard University made an announcement that they would be offering all course instructions online during upcoming Fall Semester.
The measure will be applicable to the students as well living on campus. For international students, that now opens the door to them having to leave the US entirely.
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In a statement, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.
The statement reads, ‘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 agency provides a suggestion for those students currently enrolled in the US that they should consider taking other measures, like transferring to a school with in-person instruction.
There’s an exception for universities taking a hybrid model, such as a mix of online and in-person classes.
Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited.
The United States had 1,095,299 international students in the 2018-19 academic year, an all-time high and the fourth consecutive year there were over 1 million international students in the country, according to Institute for International Education.
China was the highest student sending country in that academic year with 3,69,548 followed by India with 202,014, South Korea 52,250, Saudia Arabia 37,080 and Canada sent 26,122 students.