New International Students Told to Stay Home if 100% of Classes are Online

Washington, D.C.–Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that new international students will not be allowed in the United States if they are enrolled at a university or college that has all classes online this fall.

In a press release, the agency said, “In accordance with March 2020 guidance, nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online.”

ICE explained in a FAQ document that if new international students were already in the United States they did not have to leave the country.

This is the latest development affecting international students as universities and colleges across the United States try to grasp how to operate in the fall due to the coronavirus.

Initially, ICE issued a guidance that said current international students could not stay in the country if their university or college was conducting classes completely online in the fall. Due to overwhelming backlash, including a lawsuit from Harvard University and MIT, ICE changed the recommendation. Normally, ICE limits international students to taking one online class. However, ICE provided flexibility during the spring and summer due to the coronavirus.

Out of 1,250 universities and colleges being tracked by the Chronicle of Higher Education, about 50% are planning to operate in person during fall 2020. About 12% are planning online-only classes. For example, the University of Southern California reversed its plans of bringing students back to campus and instead told students to stay home for their own safety.

Some new international students still face challenges if they still plan to come to the U.S. to study this fall, such as travel restrictions, limited flights, and closed U.S. embassies and consulates.

The most important factor is safety. International Student Voice recommends international students to begin studies online in their home countries or defer enrollment. The United States is home to some of the best universities and colleges in the world. If you want to learn more about our partner universities and colleges, click here.