More than one million international students come to the U.S. to study at institutions of higher learning each year with a nonimmigrant student visa. International students account for 5.5% of the total number of students enrolled in degree programs. As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the U.S., many schools, colleges, and universities are mulling offering online classes only during the fall semester. Recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued regulations stating that international students whose schools are solely online will have to return to their home countries. Those who have student visas to attend programs that will solely be offered online will not be allowed to enter the country. International students who are currently in the U.S. may want to talk to a New York immigration attorney at Oltarsh & Associates to learn about their options.
New regulations from ICE for people with a nonimmigrant student visa
The new regulations would affect international students who are studying in the U.S. on F and M visas. Under the rules, the U.S. Department of State will not issue student visas to international students to study at programs at colleges or universities that will be held online. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is also directed under the new rule not to allow people with these visas into the U.S. if their programs will be held online. International students who are present in the U.S. are directed by ICE to find alternatives such as transferring to new programs that offer in-person classes.
This rule places a huge burden on international students and schools alike. International students may feel that they are being forced to choose between their health and their degree programs. Students may also have trouble getting admitted to new programs and completing all of the required steps for transferring to new programs to remain in compliance. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 8% of universities and colleges are planning to operate online during the upcoming year, including Harvard. International students contribute billions of dollars to the economy and a sizeable amount of university budgets. The announcement of the rule has resulted in Harvard and MIT filing a lawsuit against the administration to block it.
Get help from a New York immigration attorney at Oltarsh & Associates
Getting past the hurdles required to get a student visa is difficult enough without the added burden posed by the new regulations from ICE. International students whose programs are planning to be partially or fully online during the upcoming school year should get help from an experienced New York immigration attorney at Oltarsh & Associates. If you need immigration services, contact us today by calling 212.944.9420.