Foreign students running degrees in the United States may be asked to return home or get deported if universities move to online-only form of teaching.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a press statement while addressing forthcoming policies to be adopted for the fall semester to curb the spread of coronavirus.
It said students under certain visas may not take a full online course load and remain in the US, noting that visas won’t be issued to students enrolled in fully virtual programmes for the fall semester starting next month.
Although those combining online and face to face lectures were exempted, the ICE suggested those enrolled online consider other measures like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.
“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 ICE explained.
“The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programmes that are fully online for the fall semester nor will the U.S.
“Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently enrolled in such programmes 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.”
As coronavirus continues to spread globally, American universities and many others across the world had begun making arrangements to transition to online courses in place of classroom lectures.
At Harvard, it is expected that all course instructions will soon go online, including for students living on campus and this opens the door to having international students leave the US.