Foreign Students Must Attend In-Person Classes This Fall

July 7, 2020 | United States of America

Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced regulations that will require foreign students to leave the United States, or will not be allowed to enter, if their college or university conducts fall classes entirely online. Many universities and colleges stopped in-person classroom teachings during the spring and summer sessions due to COVID-19.  As students across the United States begin to plan for the upcoming fall semester, the federal guidance places new restrictions on universities and colleges with international students. International students holding an F-1 or M-1 visa must attend in-person classes this fall.

Previous guidelines allowed eligible international students to take one, 3 credit, class online each semester. ICE relaxed these rules during the spring and summer. However, ICE announced yesterday that they will not extend the COVID-19 relaxed measures for the fall and indicated that: “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. 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. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

ICE has indicated that colleges and universities can adopt a hybrid model of online and in-person learning as long as the semester’s classes are not entirely online.