International students who will be required to take online classes this fall may have to return to their countries. The new rules for foreign students may result in a big blow to colleges and many see this as an opportunity for the Trump administration to exploit the issue for racism and political purposes.
On July 6, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) published the “temporary exemptions” for the upcoming semester stating “Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes.” Adding, “If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.” International students who are outside the country will also be barred from entering the country.
It has been recorded that more than a million of international students were enrolled in US universities in 2018-2019 and since universities are urged to transition to online courses due to the coronavirus pandemic, this risks the deportation of hundreds of thousands of students who have contributed billions to the American economy through their full tuitions.
Another issue that should be considered is what would happen to students who may end up stranded instead of returning to their countries because of travel restrictions.
Many American citizen students joined the fight for foreign students by giving up their slots in-person classes to international students to give them a chance to stay in school since overseas students who will be taking the “hybrid model” (a mixture of in-person and online classes) that meets the required number of credits may get to stay. Unfortunately, this does not apply to “F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees.”