The Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that in order to stay in the United States during the fall semester of 2020, international students must take classes directly at school. A student who remains in the United States but who is taking an online course fully may face “immigration consequences, including, but not limited to, the start of an exit process.
“There are still amenities to provide flexibility for schools and nonimmigrant students, but as many institutions across the country are reopened, it is necessary to resume carefully balanced protection under federal regulations.” ICE The announcement says.
New students studying at schools that offer full online programs do not get a visa per ICE. Students already enrolled in such a school must transfer or leave. According to the Higher Education Chronicles, including Harvard and Bow Doin 8% of U.S. universities are planning online-only semesters, but some schools plan to invite a reduced number of students back to campus.
Students attending schools that offer hybrid models may remain in the United States if they do not fully take online classes. . Schools must certify that the student is taking the Exchange Student Program (SEVP) with “the minimum number of online classes required for students to progress normally in the degree program”.
On the other hand, international students staying in their home country can stay online and take online courses remotely only if the school is online only.
More than 23% of American universities offer some sort of hybrid model, including the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and Northwestern. Schools scheduled for online must notify SEVP by July 15th, and schools using the hybrid option must summarize their plans by August 1st.
Some institutions have cited the ability to fully transition to online education as a benefit of the hybrid model. This move can lead many students to confusion under ICE's new policies. All students transitioning to an online-only program during the semester must either leave or transfer at that time upon presentation.
F-1 visa, international students can study full time in the United States. Holders can only count one online class per semester. After the COVID-19 epidemic forced all universities to move their education online at universities across the country, SEVP allowed temporary exemptions for that policy, allowing international students to continue taking multiple remote courses without losing their visa.
The new regulation is one of several recent actions taken by the Trump administration to limit immigration among COVID-19 epidemics. In June, Trump ordered immigration officials to deny entry stamps for various guest worker visas, including H-1B.