According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement international students who are taking courses in the US may be at risk of deportation if their University opts to transition into online classes only.
The agency made the announcement on Monday stating that students with certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding that, “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 move may affect thousands of foreign students who have come to the US to take courses through universities, colleges, and those participating in training programs.
Harvard, which has decided to offer strictly online courses until the pandemic subsides, spoke out about the announcement saying it undermines their efforts to keep students safe by keeping them off campus:
“we are deeply concerned that the guidance issued today by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem giving international students, particularly those in online programs, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools,” Harvard University President Larry Bacow said Monday in a statement.
The agency says international students who want to remain in the US should consider other measures like transferring to a school that is still offering in-person instruction or to one that offers a hybrid of both online and in-person classes.
Harvard says it will “work closely with other colleges and universities around the country to chart a path forward.”
While students do have the opt to transfer schools, many colleges and universities have opted to transition from in-person to online courses making in-person courses more difficult to come by. Some colleges and universities have also opted to shorten their semesters.