Trump reversal on online-only students not for new students, says ICE.
It’s official now. US educational institutions successfully fended off Trump administration’s bid to bar foreign students taking online-only classes, but new students still would not be able to come as some of them feared.
Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the US to enroll in a US school for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday.
It also advised designated school officials not to issue a Form I-20 to a nonimmigrant student in new or initial status who is outside of the US and plans to take classes at an Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified educational institution fully online.
The Trump administration had on July 14 rescinded its July 6 decision of revoking the visas of foreign students taking online-only classes this fall in the face of a lawsuit by top universities including Harvard and MIT, teachers unions and at least 18 states.
However, despite its “significant victory,” Harvard’s Indian-American Dean of the College, Rakesh Khurana informed undergraduates that “international freshmen will not be able to come to campus this fall due to federal visa restrictions.”
This was so because the reversal of Trump’s “does not apply to newly admitted international students requiring F-1 sponsorship,” he wrote.
Nonimmigrant students and schools certified by the SEVP should abide by SEVP guidance originally issued in March 2020 to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the public health emergency generated by covid-19, ICE said Friday.
The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a US school on March 9 and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the US or abroad, it said.
SEVP will not issue a temporary final rule impacting nonimmigrant students for the fall school term, ICE added.
SEVP, it said, will continue to provide the latest covid-19-related information and guidance to stakeholders at www.ICE.gov/COVID19 and via its other communications channels, including Broadcast Messages, SEVP field representatives, Study in the States blog posts and social media.
There were more than one million international students in the US, including about 200,000 from India, for the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.
Foreign students face deportation if US schools go online (July 7, 2020)
US says foreign students still welcome despite new rule (July 8, 2020)