U.S. forces International students to leave the country if their universities transition to online-only learning

The new policy creates an instant difficulty for thousands of international students who became stranded in the U.S.  after the virus forced their schools to move online.

international students

International students who are pursuing studies in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities shift to online-only courses.

The guidelines, issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has put extra pressure on campuses to reopen despite growing concerns regarding the recent spread of the coronavirus among adults.

U.S. President Donald Trump has directed that schools and universities must return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. After the guidance was released, Trump reiterated on Twitter that educational institutions must reopen this fall.

According to the updated rules, international students must take at least some of their courses in person. Moreover, new visas will not be issued to students at institutions or programs that are entirely online.

Even at universities that have been offering both in-person and online courses this fall, international students will be prevented from taking all their classes online.

Immense confusion for International students

This situation creates an instant difficulty for thousands of international students who became stranded in the U.S. after the virus forced their schools to move online.

According to the guidelines, students who are attending schools that are staying online must “leave the country or take other steps, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction.”

Many U.S. colleges have announced to provide in-person classes this fall, but some have said it is too precarious. On Monday, Harvard University said it would invite first-year students to live on campus, but classes will continue to be held online.

Last week, the University of Southern California backtracked on its plans to bring students back, saying classes will be held “primarily or exclusively” online.

The new guidelines are likely to create “immense confusion” among institutes as they plan for the fall, said Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President of the American Council on Education.

Hartle added it is not clear what would happen if a student ended up in that situation but faced travel restraints from their home country.

“The ICE is creating an incentive for institutions to reopen, regardless of the pandemic circumstances,” he said.

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