International students may not be able to stay in the U.S if their entire fall course load is online, ICE says

Announced Monday, the new regulations are different depending on the instructional methods of different universities.

by Hana Ikramuddin

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday that international students enrolled at universities in the United States will not be eligible to remain in the country if their entire course load is online.

Per the announcement, international students participating in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and attending universities that will be fully online in response to the coronavirus pandemic – or whose individual courses will be solely online this fall – would need to transfer to schools offering in-person or hybrid classes. Otherwise, these students would face deportation. 

For the University of Minnesota, this means that international students will have to take at least one in-person class to live and study in the U.S. The Board of Regents approved President Joan Gabel’s fall 2020 reopening plan, which included a mix of in-person and online courses.

According to the announcement, international students are not permitted to stay in the U.S. if a University shifts classes fully online at any point in the semester. This fall, the University of Minnesota is going to be operating at an accelerated schedule with in-person classes ending at Thanksgiving break. 

This means that international students – who made up 12% of the Twin Cities campus student body in spring 2020 – would likely need to leave the country or transfer schools following Thanksgiving.

“Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” the statement said. “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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.”

The University will also have to verify that a student is not taking a course load that is entirely online and is taking “the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”

The move from ICE comes at a time when the University’s international student enrollment faces a decline of roughly 28%.

The students who will not remain the U.S. can only maintain their active status “ if they are taking online courses and are able to meet the normal full course of study requirements or the requirements for a reduced course of study.” Only those students will be able to engage in remote learning from outside the U.S.

This is a breaking news report. More information may be added as it becomes available.