Foreign Students attending U.S. colleges that will switch all their courses to online this fall, cannot remain in the country to do so, according to new regulations released on Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"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 instructions to remain in lawful status," read a release from ICE's Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SVEP). "If not, they may face immigration consequences including but not limited to the initiation of removal proceedings."
According to the Institute of International Education, more than a million of the country's higher education students come from overseas, and they contribute as much as $41 Billion to the American economy and supported almost half a million jobs during the 2018 - 2019 academic year alone, according to NAFSA.
The colleges, on their part, are not happy with the decision by ICE, and not just because of the value these students add to the school's finances, but also the cultural enrichment. Harvard University, one of the school's to unveil its plans for reopening, switching all classes online, plans to bring back 40% of undergraduates including freshmen onto campus.
Harvard President Larry Backs said in a statement that the ICE policy is a "blunt one size fits all approach to a complex problem. We must do all that we can to ensure that our students continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the sacrifices many of them have made to advance their education."
The American Council on Higher Education, a lobbying group, also condemned the decision. "At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction. ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving instructions online or in-person, or a combination of both, especially during this unprecedented global health crisis.".
Our simple advise for all international students, is to work with their schools and also seek legal help to ensure that they remain lawful.
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