ICE New Rule Bars International Students
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in March, most educational institutions in the United States have shifted their instruction styles from conventional in-person lectures to online sessions. This new teaching style has been implemented throughout the spring and summer semesters to facilitate social distancing.
As a new school year approaches, many schools have made announcements regarding how instructions will take place for the 2020-2021 school year. Some decided to return to conventional physical lectures. Some chose to carry out all instructions digitally through conference software. Some have taken a hybrid approach—making some courses online and some in-person.
On July 6th, the ICE introduced a rule that will largely impact the students whose schools have made instructions online for the upcoming school year. F-1 and M-1 students enrolled in programs that will be entirely online in the Fall 2020 semester will be denied entry to the U.S. Neither will they be issued visas.
If these students are currently in the United States, they must leave the country or take measures such as transferring to a school that offers in-person instructions. Or else they would be facing immigration consequences such as the initiation of removal proceedings.
Even as students of schools that offer in-person instructions, F-1 and M-1 visa holders are only allowed to take at most one online class or a total of less than three credit hours online.
Students of institutions taking hybrid approaches are allowed to take more than three credit hours of online classes. However, their schools must provide certifications through I-20 to SEVP to prove that they are not enrolled in entirely-online programs.
F-1 students enrolled in English language training programs and M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees cannot enroll in online classes.
This rule pushes the situation faced by international students to a new level of uncertainty. According to statistics, as of the 2018-2019 school year, more than 1 million international students have enrolled in educational institutions in the United States. Over 57% of the population consists of students from China, India, and South Korea. A significant portion of such students will be affected mainly by the recently released rule.
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