ICE says new international students cannot enter US if taking all fall classes online

Incoming international students enrolling in fully online classes will not be able to enter the U.S. this fall, according to ICE guidelines. (Courtesy: AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons)

Incoming international students enrolling in fully online classes will not be able to come to the U.S. for the fall semester, according to guidance released Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

In early July, ICE announced a policy change that would have barred all international students taking classes entirely online from remaining in the U.S., but facing lawsuits from colleges around the country — and from four of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges — the agency dropped this change. 

Under previously issued guidance, however, international students without F-1 status as of March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. for the fall semester if taking “a full course of study that is 100 percent online.” ICE clarified on Friday that this policy is still in effect and that the Department of State will “likely” not issue new F-1 visas to international students taking online classes in the fall.

Incoming international undergraduates at Harvey Mudd College may be able to enter the U.S. if HMC continues planning to hold some in-person or hybrid classes. If international students begin in-person or hybrid classes and their schools switch to online instruction, they will not be forced to leave the country, according to the guidance.

“It is our understanding that our new international students will be eligible to obtain visas, provided that the College is able to offer in-person classes in the fall as planned,” Judy Augsburger, a spokesperson for HMC, told TSL via email.

The remaining undergraduate Claremont Colleges have all announced that instruction will be offered entirely online for the fall semester.

Carolina De la Rosa Bustamante, the international student adviser at Pomona College, told TSL via email that international students will still be able to enroll in online classes for the fall semester without F-1 status.

Bustamante added that she has closely communicated with international students about this policy and that the college looks “forward to having the students join us on campus in the future.” 

Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College and Pitzer College did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This article was last updated at 4:06 p.m. on August 1, 2020.

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