Foreign students running degrees in the United States may have to leave the country or get deported if universities transition to an online-only form of teaching.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said this in a press statement on Monday while addressing forthcoming policies to be adopted for the fall semester to curb COVID-19 spread.
It said students under certain visas may not take a full online course load and remain in the US, noting that visas won’t be issued to students enrolled in fully virtual programmes for the fall semester starting in August.
Although those combining online and in-person lectures were exempted, the ICE suggested those enrolled online consider other measures like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.
“Nonimmigrant 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,” the ICE explained.
“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 the U.S.
“Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.
“Active students currently 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.
“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
As the novel virus continues to spread globally, US varsities and many others across the globe had begun making arrangements to transition to online courses in place of in-person lecture delivery.
At Harvard, it is expected that all course instructions will soon go online, including for students living on campus and this opens the door to having international students leave the US.