International students may need to leave US if their universities transition to online-only learning

The move may affect 1000s of foreign students who come to the United States to attend universities or participate in training programs, in addition to non-academic or vocational studies.

In a news release Monday, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding, “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 suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction. There’s an exception for universities using a hybrid model, like a mix of on line and in-person classes.

Visa requirements for students will always be strict and coming to the US to simply take online-only courses has been prohibited.

“These are not some fly-by-night universities, these aren’t scams, these are legit universities who would normally have in-person curricula but for coronavirus,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

“The bigger issue is some of these countries have travel restrictions on and they can’t go home, so what do they do then?” she added. “It’s a conundrum for a lot of students.”

This is a breaking story and will also be updated.

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