US Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently announced that newly-enrolled students won’t be allowed to enter the U.S if their classes are offered online only.
Students will be allowed to enter the United States to enrol in a US school to take hybrid coursework for the fall semester, and the rules will not apply to those international students who were already enrolled at universities or colleges in the US last semester and are returning, even if their school have moved to online classes.
Some students had expressed frustration and concern over their next steps, as colleges and universities announced decisions to move all courses online amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Friday’s announcement says only on new students.
“Newly-enrolled students in new or initial status after March 9 won’t be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of student that is One -hundred (100) percent online,” ICE said in a statement.
Earlier, United States President Donald Trump dropped a ban on ‘Online Only’ international students whose courses move fully online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U-turn or reversal comes just one week after the policy announcement.
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sued the federal government over the plan.
District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts says both parties have come to a settlement.
The agreement reinstates a policy implemented in March, amidst the coronavirus outbreak, which allows foreign students to attend their classes virtually if necessary and remain legally in the U.S on student visas.
Large numbers of international students travel to the United States to study every year and are a significant source of revenue for universities.
Harvard announced had earlier announced that, because of concerns over the virus’s spread, course instruction would be delivered online when students return for the new academic session. MIT, like a number of other post-secondary institutions, said it would also continue to use virtual tuition.
What had Policy Said?
International students were told last week that they would not be allowed to stay in the United States this autumn unless they change to a course with in-person tuition.
Those who had returned to their country of origin when the term ended in March – as the coronavirus pandemic crisis grew – were told they would not be allowed to return if their classes had since moved online.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency had said students could face deportation if they did not follow or comply with the rules.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is managed by ICE, had originally permitted international students to continue with their spring and summer 2020 courses online while staying in the country.
But on 6 July the agency said international students who then failed to change to in-person courses could face deportation.