ICE to Force Foreign Students To Leave USA If Colleges Offer Online-Only Classes

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is catching some heat for new regulations that were released this week regarding foreign students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As universities finalize decisions on whether to allow students back on campus for the fall semester or whether to shift to online-only classes, new regulations would force foreign students attending colleges in the United States out of the country if their colleges do not provide in-person classes and if they choose not to transfer.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program read, according to NPR.

“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

This presents an unfortunate situation for students whose colleges already decide to move to online classes — like Harvard. The State Department will not issue those students visas and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country.

More than 1 million college students come from overseas and hold F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas which allow the students to “pursue academic and vocational coursework.”

Those visas would be directly impacted by the new regulations put forward.

American Council on Education president Ted Mitchell issued a statement on the regulations while asking ICE to rethink its position.

“At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving his or her education online, in person, or through a combination of both, whether in the United States or in their home country, during this unprecedented global health crisis.”

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