TT students at risk of being deported from US

Cheryl Sanders
July 7, 2020

ICE said it would not allow holders of student visas to remain in the country if their school was fully online for the fall.

Worldwide students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday. 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. Those students must transfer or leave the country, or they potentially face deportation proceedings, according to the announcement.

President Donald Trump's administration has imposed a number of new restrictions to legal and illegal immigration in recent months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the US Commerce Department, worldwide students contributed $45 billion (£36 billion) to the country's economy in 2018.

New visas will not be issued to students at universities or programmes that are entirely online. Those universities will have to prove foreign students are not taking all of their classes online.

Due to the coronavirus response, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) made an exception and allowed foreign students to stay in the United States while taking summer and spring classes online.

Dozens of United States colleges have announced plans to provide classes this autumn, but some have said it is too risky.

Online, some, like American Immigration Council's Aaron Reichlin-Melnick and others, noted that just leaving the country isn't that easy, and the students' home countries might not have reliable or even high-speed internet access, or their time zone might change dramatically, forcing some to take courses in the middle of the night.

The University of Southern California last week reversed plans to bring students back, saying classes would be "primarily or exclusively" online.

Of particular concern is a stipulation that worldwide students would not be exempt from the rules even if an outbreak forces their schools to move online during the semester.

He said the immigration authorities were "clearly creating an incentive for institutions to reopen, regardless of whether or not the circumstances of the pandemic warrant it".

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