The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disclosed this in a statement on Monday night while addressing forthcoming policies to be adopted for the fall semester to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The ICE said that Non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may have to shift to schools that have in-person classes or leave the country.
The immigration agency said US will also not issue visas to students whose colleges will offer full online courses from August this year.
Although those combining online and in-person lectures were exempted, the ICE insisted that students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the US. ICE said:
- 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. Visas will not be issued to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will US permit these students to enter country.
- Active students currently in the US 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.
- Non-immigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
- Non-immigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.
- The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.
- Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a non-immigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load.
- Non-immigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their non-immigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.
Harvard is among the first universities that has shifted completely to online teaching till a vaccine is found to tackle Covid-19. Students, even who are in the campus, will have to learn courses remotely.
ICE has threatened that students who don’t comply with the new rules of finding a college that offers in-person teaching could be removed from the country.
This is coming barely two weeks after President Trump signed an executive order that will see many foreign workers lose the right to gain a work visa to come to the United States.
The restriction, which took effect on June 24, 2020, will prevent hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who are coming into the US for work.