International students may have a more difficult time studying in the U.S. this fall

International students bring diversity and revenue to colleges and universities to American schools. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these learning institutions plan to give instruction fully online in the fall of 2020. The Trump administration argues that these international students should be deported instead of receiving instruction online in the U.S.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.

The policy to enact this was announced on July 6 and seeks to deport students who are not able to attend classes in person because they are not offered. It would also not allow international students to return to the U.S. after visiting their home countries during the summer.

On July 8, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were the first universities among many to file suit seeking to block the policy. The attorney general of 18 states also sued. They stated in their suits that the intended goal of the policy was to force schools to reopen early, which could be harmful to all U.S. populations since the COVID-19 pandemic is still occurring and the U.S. is a primary hotspot in COVID-19 cases worldwide. The Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana expressed his antipathy to the proposed policy in an email to students sent on July 21.

“We abhor any policies that seek to force us to choose between our community’s health and the education of our international students,” Khurana said.

The policy was swiftly modified, just a week after its presentation. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, who oversees the Student Exchange and Visitor Program, has set new guidelines for incoming international students on July 24. International students who were not enrolled before March 9, 2020 and are not in the U.S., will not be allowed to reside and study in the U.S. if their school will hold classes entirely online. They can remain in the country if some of their courses are in person and can remain if that same school goes all online at some point in the middle of the semester. Visa flexibility will only be granted to those already within the U.S. ICE also suggested that deferment might also be an option for students that are already enrolled in courses.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency provides new guidelines for what international students can remain in the U.S. this fall. Image from The U.S. and Customs Enforcement Agency website.

So far, 12% of U.S. colleges and universities plan to go entirely online in the fall, 34% propose a hybrid model, 50% will open in person and 4% are undecided, according to The Chronicle. Over one million students are international in the U.S. and they contributed $44.7 billion to the American economy to the economy in 2018, according to 2019 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange. Students come from all over the world but a huge majority are from China, making up 369,548 students from the 2018-2018 school year.

For a regularly updated list of what school plans are for fall concerning educational delivery, visit The Chronicle. For policy facts and updates about international student visas, visit U.S. Immigration and Customs.