New ICE Rule May Impact Over 1 Million International Students in the U.S.
International students will be required to take at least one in-person class to keep their visas, at a time when many universities are prioritizing online instruction.
• A directive by the Trump administration that would strip international college students of their U.S. visas if their coursework was entirely online prompted widespread confusion on Tuesday as students scrambled to clarify their statuses and universities reassessed their fall reopening policies amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
• The White House measure, announced on Monday, was seen as an effort to pressure universities into reopening their gates and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have announced they would adopt to reduce Covid-19 transmission.
• The effect may be to dramatically reduce the number of international students enrolling in the fall. Together with delays in processing visas as a result of the pandemic, immigrant advocates say the new rules, which must still be finalized this month, might discourage many overseas students from attending American universities, where they often pay full tuition.
• “The financial repercussions to institutions are potentially very traumatic,” said Daniel J. Hurley, chief executive of the Michigan Association of State Universities, which represents the state’s public universities. He cited studies showing that 33,236 international students contributed $1.2 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2018.
• The concern that their campuses could become coronavirus clusters has prompted many universities to adopt measures to reduce exposure, from requiring masks in classrooms to limiting social activities to reducing the number of students invited back to campus. Many have announced a hybrid approach that would provide some in-person classes but offer a significant amount of coursework virtually.
• Such changes could put foreign students’ visas, known as F-1 visas, at risk under the new rules. International students whose universities are not planning in-person classes, which is currently the case at schools including the University of Southern California and Harvard, would be required to return to their home countries if they are already in the United States.
Reporter : Manish JS