On Monday, the United States announced that universities are to move classes fully online for the 2020 fall semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result, foreign students are in a dilemma as they may face deportation if they do not comply to the rules of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency which requires students to transfer to schools with in-person instruction in order to remain in lawful status.
According to Edglossary, In-person learning is any form of instructional interaction that occurs “in person” and in real time between teachers and students or among colleagues and peers.
Following the trends in United States Study abroad, statistics shows that the number of students studying for credit during the 2017-2018 academic year grew 2.7 percent from 332,727 students to 341,751 students- NAFSA.
More so, for the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education, which accounted for 5.5 percent of the total U.S. higher education population and international students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018.
China is said to be the largest source of international students in the U.S., followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
Though the new rule states that students can transfer to a new school to remain in lawful status, many say this is not a viable option- CGTN said.
Large numbers of foreign students travel to the US to study every year and are a significant source of revenue for universities as many pay full tuition – BBC.
“Non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” ICE said in a statement.
“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,” ICE said.
The announcement by the U.S. ICE said foreign students who remain in the U.S. while enrolled in online courses and fail to switch to in-person courses could face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings”.
This rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in the fiscal year 2019.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, international students contributed $45 billion (£36 billion) to the country’s economy in 2018- BBC.
Image Credit: BBC and 247nnu