International students in Indiana and other parts of the United States who are pursuing an education may soon be forced to leave the country. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students will have to leave the country if classes at the university they attend are completely online this fall. Students who do not comply with this order will risk deportation.
Those knowledgeable about current events in immigration law explain that the visas that allow these students to reside in the United States will not allow them to take a full slate of classes online and maintain temporary residency. The State Department has announced that no new students will receive visas for schools that are scheduled to operate online this fall. The Customs and Border Protection agency also chimed in, saying that students who fit the criteria presently in their home countries will not be allowed to enter the United States once the 2020 fall semester begins.
Students who attend classes at a school that will operate online this fall can guard their visa status by transferring to a school that will provide classes at a physical location. There are also exceptions for students who attend a college that plans to mix online classes with a classroom learning experience.
The American Council of Education vice-president expressed his surprise at the announcement. He says that the new possibility is problematic for several reasons. One reason is that a university offering in-person classes could find a shift to online classes necessary during the term. He says this type of situation can only result in more chaos and confusion.
The laws and policies that shape the immigration system in the United States are complex and prone to change. Individuals with questions about their current immigration status may benefit from a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.