BREAKING: International Students Solely with Online Courses Not Permitted to Stay in U.S.

Please be aware that the US rescinded the international student ban on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. All students on F-1 or M-1 Visas are allowed to stay in the US regardless of whether they have in-person classes. To learn more, please refer to our Facebook post.

In a broadcast message by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, international students on F-1 or M-1 student visas will not be allowed to be in the U.S. if they are taking university courses entirely online in the fall. This comes as a change for ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program which permitted students to stay in the U.S. for last spring due to COVID-19. 

ICE stated that international students currently in the U.S. with entirely online coursework will not have their visas renewed and must either leave the country or take other measures to have in-person courses. Students who plan to return to the U.S. for online university will also be prevented from entering the country. 

This announcement comes following UC San Diego’s decision to have hybrid classes in Fall Quarter 2020 as part of its Return to Learn program. According to ICE, students attending schools using a hybrid model will be able to take multiple online courses but cannot take an entirely online courseload. In order for international students to stay on campus in the fall, they will need the university to complete an I-20 Form on their behalf to verify their eligibility for nonimmigrant student status.

The more than 5,600 international students on campus at UCSD make up a total of 18.6 percent of the undergraduate student population. As a whole, the University of California has 27,205 international students out of its total 226,125 undergraduate students. If the broadcast message goes into effect, these students will be unable to be in the U.S. for their next quarter of study unless they take at least one in-person course.

“Seeing how COVID played out in my own country [of China], I took the pandemic seriously, and at times even took over-the-top precautionary measures when nobody else did,” Thurgood Marshall College junior Irvin Yang said. “I did my best to carry on with my life, but now we [international students] are forced to spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets, risk the lives of ourselves and our families, and possibly bring the virus back to our home countries. It is incredulous to see the U.S. not only fail to control the pandemic but also make students’ lives unnecessarily difficult to get a degree. This is a poor attempt to shift the blame toward Chinese international students, distracting from [the administration’s] own failures.”

The University of California has announced on July 8 that it plans to ask the court to prevent the federal government from enacting their new international student visa policy. The suit argues that ICE did not follow the proper procedures for federal agencies to issue new regulations. It also claims that the university’s and the students’ reliant interests were not earnestly taken into consideration when the new policy was developed.

“The University of California’s legacy and leadership would not be the same without the international students and faculty who have come to this institution,” said UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez in an press release. “It is imperative for UC to file this lawsuit in order to protect our students. To UC’s international students, I say: ‘We support you and regret the additional chaos ICE’s action has caused.’ To the courts, I say, ‘We are the University of California. UC knows science, UC knows law, and we approach both in good faith. Our opponents have shown you time and again that they do not.’”

Although this announcement came from a U.S. agency, the decision has not been codified and is not yet enforceable by law. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon publish guidelines to make the broadcast message into a temporary final rule.

If you or a friend are affected by this broadcast message, please contact UCSD International Students and Programs Office for more information and next steps. To learn more about possible courses to take in-person at UCSD, please visit this community-run spreadsheet.

This article was updated on 7/7/2020 at 8 PM to clarify the amount in-person classes UCSD students will need to take in order to stay in the US.

This article was updated on 7/8/2020 at 7:23 PM to include the University of California’s new court case against the federal government.

This article was updated on 7/14/2020 at 1:50 PM to state that the ban has been rescinded.

Photo courtesy of Eva Hambach via Getty Images.

2 thoughts on “BREAKING: International Students Solely with Online Courses Not Permitted to Stay in U.S.

  1. this is proof positive that ICE is anti-immigrant and anti-poc since the usual argument is that “they” need to “enter only via legal means” — well, students are HERE THROUGH LEGAL VISAS and it’s utter BS that in this unprecedented time when online learning is a necessity to KEEP PEOPLE FREAKING SAFE AND LITERALLY ALIVE that they would pull this BS!!!

    it’s so disheartening, how do we freaking deal with this insanity — thank you UC for being among the first to file a lawsuit

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