New guidelines issued by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement are making life incredibly difficult for international students. According to the new rules, any students whose university offers classes entirely online this fall will be required to either transfer to another school where there are in-person classes or leave the country.
Although many universities have already announced their intention to transition to online classes — whether it be completely or a mix with in-person classes — this fall, the guidelines put pressure on schools to offer in-person classes as the Trump administration tries to force schools around the country to reopen.
According to the new rules, international students must take at least some classes in person, as new visas will not be issued to students whose entire curriculum is online. A student taking one or two in-person classes should be able to obtain a visa, but that means risking their health and safety to comply with the visa requirements.
The American Council on Education called the guidelines “horrifying,” and believes the new rules will result in heightened confusion as schools struggle to reopen safely in the fall. Terry Hartle, the council’s senior vice president, said, “ICE is clearly creating an incentive for institutions to reopen, regardless of whether or not the circumstances of the pandemic warrant it.”
The Associated Press reported that last year, nearly 400,000 international students received visas, and nearly 1.1 million attended universities in the United States, so this new measure will certainly have wide-ranging repercussions.