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International students must take in-person college classes to remain in the United States, federal rules say

July 6, 2020
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say international students can't stay in the country if they're taking only online courses.

New rules issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) say that international students enrolled in U.S. colleges must take in-person classes to remain in the country.

CBS News reports that under the new guidelines from ICE, which oversees the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program, foreigners with F-1 or M-1 visas—which are for academic and vocational international students, respectively—will not be allowed to participate in an entirely online fall semester.

The rule has caused alarm for many students and higher education institutions that have plans to mainly offer online classes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Department will not issue visas to students planning to attend schools that will offer only remote learning, and Customs and Border Protection officials will not allow such applicants to enter the country, according to a summary of the temporary rule.

Students already in the United States under those programs who are planning to attend colleges or universities that will only offer online classes in the fall will need to transfer to other schools providing in-person instruction, depart the country or face potential deportation, ICE warns. If they leave the United States, the students will be able to continue the remote instruction in their home countries.

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