Trump says no to student visas for online-only classes
The Trump administration is telling international students that if they are enrolled in online-only classes in the fall, they won’t qualify for U.S. student visas.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a release on Monday that “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.”
However, ICE says that students are free to transfer to other schools with in-person instruction.
Failure to abide by the rules could lead to “the initiation of removal proceedings.”
The U.S. education system is struggling with its coronavirus efforts, where wholesale lockdowns have affected the delivery and quality of instruction as many institutions have opted-in to online-only instruction.
“Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited,” says CNN.
This puts pressure on schools to reopen in a timely manner in the fall with at least an abbreviated in-person semester.
It comes at a bad time as reports of coronavirus cases under the age of the 35 continue to be hyped by the media. Limited shutdowns in states like California, Texas and Florida have some universities changing course.
The University of Southern California, Hampton University and Texas State University, for example, have all backed off plans to open for in-person teaching and gone to an online-only format for now.
“Given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, our undergraduate students primarily or exclusively will be taking their courses online in the fall term, and on-campus housing and activities will be limited,” said USC.
USC cited actions taken by the county of Los Angeles and the state of California as impacting its decision.
“Los Angeles County has yet to approve our plans for returning to full campus operations…. Indeed, the Governor of California issued an order today… severely restricting indoor activities in a variety of businesses.”
USC has 12,265 international students, over half of whom are from China, according to the university’s website. Foreign students make up about 26 percent of the student population at USC, which has 48,500 total students enrolled.
“Not reopening the campus to students will minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the Hampton, Virginia community. It is our hope that this will also allow sufficient time for the threat of the virus to diminish,” said Hampton president William R. Harvey.
International enrollment in U.S. universities hit an all-time high prior to the coronavirus outbreak with 1,095,299 students. By far the largest population of students comes from China’s 369,548 enrollees.
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