Foreign students must leave if classes go online: US Govt

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The US government on Tuesday said foreign students would not be allowed to stay in the country classes are moved online in the fall/autumn term due to the outbreak of the coronavirus 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, as reported by a daily.

F-1 students pursue academic coursework and M-1 students pursue “vocational coursework,” according to ICE.

“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, adding, “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings”.

The largest number of international students came from China, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. There were more than one million international students in the United States for the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE).

ICE said the State Department “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.”

Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester. The universities are considering to blend in a hybrid model of both online and offline classes. However, some universities including Harvard have declared conducting only in online mode.

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