On Monday, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program made amendments that prevent international students from staying in the U.S. if their college transitions to fully online courses.
The news release states that “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” As COVID-19 cases continue to soar throughout the country, colleges and universities are finalizing their decisions on how the approaching semester is going to be ran.
According to the Institute of International Education, there were at least a million international students in 2019. This leaves numerous international students with limited options that can affect their future education. The only way a visa holder is able to remain in the U.S. is if they transfer to a college with at least a hybrid learning environment between in-person and online. However, with the news release being barely a month away from the opening of many schools, it’s difficult to go through the transferring process in such little time.
The New School, located in New York City, had the highest percentage of international students at a university in the U.S. from 2018-2019, according to U.S. News. Recently, they announced that all of their classes will be online this fall. Although there are certain international students exempt from the new modification, this still leaves a large population, from one of the country’s highest number of international students, with an option to rush a transfer or to return back to their home country.
For those that have no choice but to leave the country, they now have to consider if they’d be able to complete the courses. Along with strict travel restrictions in certain countries, there are also internet restrictions that may limit a student’s availability to some of the courses. They also have to consider if the difficulties, under possibly different time zones, are worth the cost of tuition.
Not only does the new exemption impact many across the country, it also impacts the colleges that these students attend. They can either change their position on the fall semester to include in-person classes in the midst of the pandemic, or they can continue to remain online a declining international population at their school.
The new statement adds to the existing tension between the Trump administration and foreigners as international students now face uncertainty regarding their future education.