《TAIPEI TIMES》 US bans foreign students in classes held only online
The campus of Georgetown University in Washington is nearly empty on May 7 as classes were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: AFP
REMOVAL: While some schools are considering a mix of in-person and online classes in the fall, others like Harvard have opted to hold all online
/ AFP, WASHINGTON
The US on Monday said it would not allow foreign students to remain in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” US Immigration and Custom Enforcement （ICE） said in a statement.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” ICE said.
“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” it said.
The US 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 US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” it said.
Universities with a hybrid system of in-person and online classes will have to show that foreign students are taking as many in-person classes as possible to maintain their status, it said.
Critics quickly hit back at the decision.
“The cruelty of this White House knows no bounds,” US Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted.
“Foreign students are being threatened with a choice: risk your life going to class-in person or get deported,” he said.
Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester.
A number of schools are looking at a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction, but some, including Harvard University, have said all classes would be conducted online.
Harvard said 40 percent of undergraduates would be allowed to return to campus — but their instruction would be conducted remotely.
There were more than 1 million international students in the US for the 2018-2019 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education （IIE）.
That accounted for 5.5 percent of the total US higher education population, the IIE said, and international students contributed US$44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018.
The largest number of international students came from China, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
US President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election in November, has taken a bullish approach to reopening the country even as virus infections continue to spike in parts of the country, particularly the south and west.
“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” he tweeted on Monday.