Another blow to yet another immigration group was announced on July 6th by the Trump Administration through Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), this time relating to international students as a result of the novel Covid-19.
The announcement relates to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program administered through ICE and international students who are in the US on a student visa and who are attending a college or university that will be offering classes online instead of in person.
ICE is mandating that international students will not be permitted to take all their classes online if their college offers a mix of on-campus and remote classes. In short, if there are no in-person courses for the student’s school being offered starting in the fall semester, the student will no longer be in a valid immigration status and will be required to leave the US right away. Students already in the US at institutions who will only be offering classes online, will be permitted to apply for a new visa to transfer to a different school with face-to-face instruction or they will be required to leave the country to take classes remotely from their home country, assuming the school has that capability.
The requirement for in-person attendance at schools offering these classes could be a problem for many students since US consulates around the world have stopped nearly all visa processing and interviews. So, students who have been accepted into programs but have not yet entered the US will likely not be able to get a visa even if the school does offer in-person classes.
This announcement also is a serious blow to most colleges and universities in the US as international student populations often represent a significant source of revenue for the institutions as well as a major source of money to local, state and national economies. This, of course, follows the serious problem already facing these schools as they deal with whether any student will be able to return this fall semester. It is expected that a number of schools will have to close their doors possibly permanently.