By- Azra Rizvi
Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch has issued new rules for exchange students on Monday that could present challenges for universities and schools in the middle of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The ICE’s highly anticipated new rules stated that the Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are completely online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection allow these students to enter the United States.
The rules continued that the students who are already in the US whose programs have changed to online-only instruction must “depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”
He went on to say that “If not, they may face immigration consequences” which included, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
According to the rules, students attending schools embracing a hybrid model, that is, a mixture of online and in-person classes will be permitted to take more than one class or three credit hours online.
A 2020 report of the ICE revealed that there were 1.55 million active non-immigrant student visas under the Student and Exchange visitor program (SEVP) in 2018.
The enrollment of about 1.3 million of those students was in higher education courses at universities while about 85,000 were in grade school, with 92 percent of those in grades 9-12.
On Monday, Trump wrote in a Twitter post that “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” However, schools are mostly under the jurisdiction of state and local governments.
Educators have floundered with decisions regarding the opening of schools considering the risk of infection to both students and staff.
The first-year students of Harvard University will be invited to live on campus this year, while most other undergraduates will be required to learn remotely from home, the Ivy League institution announced on Monday.