The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced new guidelines for international students. The guidelines titled “COVID-19 and Fall 2020” is in light of the effect of the global pandemic.
The new policy states that international students must take physical classes at their schools to remain in the country.
International Students who choose to remain in the US but take only online courses may face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings” according to the new guidelines.
“There will still be accommodations to provide flexibility to schools and nonimmigrant students, but as many institutions across the country reopen, there is a concordant need to resume the carefully balanced protections implemented by federal regulations,” states ICE said in the announcement.
International students enrolled in fully online courses are required to transfer to schools with physical classes or leave the US. On the other hand, the ICE will not grant visas to new students matriculating at schools offering fully online programs.
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International students in schools that offer a hybrid (online and physical) model can remain in the US. However, it is on the condition that they are not taking only online courses.
Schools will also have to certify to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that the International students are taking “the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”
At the same time, the ICE will permit international students who remain in their home countries to maintain their “Active status”. This means they can take an online course load remotely if their school is online-only.
According to The Verge, at least 23 percent of US colleges plan to offer some sort of hybrid model. These schools include the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, and Northwestern.
The Schools offering online-only classes must notify SEVP of their plans by 15th July 2020. Institutions planning to use a hybrid option must outline their plans for Fall 2020 by 1st August 2020.
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