The government announced Monday that international students will not be allowed to stay in the country if the institution in which they're enrolled is holding online-only courses this fall, and those failing to comply with the rules will risk deportation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that students on F-1 and M-1 visas who face such a situation "must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status." Those who violate the rules "may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings," the agency said.:45
The new rules are a blow to many international students who will be forced to either leave the country or scramble to transfer to a new school to keep their legal status. Some who exit the country will face hurdles to learning online, such as varying time zones.
The agency's guidance stated that students in institutions with a hybrid of online and in-person courses may take multiple online classes, while current limits will remain for colleges and universities holding normal in-person classes.
International students are 5.5 percent of the higher education population in the U.S., totaling nearly 1.1 million in the 2018-2019 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.