Foreign students enrolled in establishments offering courses exclusively online, at the start of the next school year, will no longer be able to benefit from a student visa, the American immigration services announced on Monday.
The United States announced on Monday that it would not allow foreign students to stay in the country if their universities decided for fear of coronavirus, to continue teaching only online at the start of the school year.
Students already present on American territory “Must leave the country or take other measures, such as enrolling in a school with lessons in person to maintain their legal status”, said the Immigration and Customs Police (ICE) in a press release.
This is bad. ICE just told students here on student visas that if their school is going online-only this fall, the students must depart the United States and cannot remain through the fall semester. https://t.co/8DteVzexLB pic.twitter.com/OfkWRKFZZE
— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) July 6, 2020
The US government does “Will not give visas to students enrolled in fully online programs in the fall and border guards will not let them enter the territory”, she added.
When establishments choose a model “Hybrid”, they will have to certify that their foreign students are enrolled as much as possible in person, so that they keep their residence rights. These exceptions will not be authorized for English studies or professional training.
“The cruelty of the White House knows no bounds”, immediately criticized Senator Bernie Sanders, former contender for the Democratic nomination for the presidential election on November 3. “Foreign students find themselves having to choose between risking their lives in classrooms or being expelled”, he continued.
The cruelty of this White House knows no bounds. Foreign students are being threatened with a choice: risk your life going to class in-person or get deported.
We must stand up to Trump’s bigotry. We must keep all our students safe. https://t.co/Q2MvmgJPqV
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 6, 2020
“The worst is uncertainty”, Gonzalo Fernández, a 32-year-old Spanish boy with a doctorate in economics at George Washington University, confirmed to AFP. “We don’t know if we will have lessons next semester, if we have to go home or if they will kick us out …”
The measure concerns F1 (for academic studies) or M1 (for professional training) visas. About 1.2 million people had it in March, a large majority of Asians (Chinese, Indians, South Koreans), according to official data.
Like the rest of the country, American universities, which account for 5.5% of international students on average and depend heavily on their tuition fees, closed their doors in March and switched to online education in an attempt to stem the pandemic.
In the absence of vaccines, some, including the State University of California or the prestigious Harvard University, have announced that they will continue with 100% online courses at the start of the school year, even for students authorized to live on campus.
According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the think tank American Immigration Council, the new rule is supposed to allow students to continue their studies from their country but this is not realistic, in particular because of travel difficulties or technological delay of some countries of origin. “Legal recourse is inevitable”, he predicted on Twitter.
President Trump, campaigning for re-election, is pushing for a resumption of the country although the pandemic is not under control. “Schools must reopen”, he notably tweeted in capital letters on Monday.
With more than 130,000 dead, the United States is nevertheless the most mourning country in the world and it has known for a few weeks an outbreak of infections in the South and the West.
Fight against immigration
Donald Trump, who has made the fight against immigration a marker of his presidency, has operated several rounds of screw against foreigners since the start of the health crisis.
In June, he froze until 2021 the issuance of green cards – who offer permanent resident status in the United States – and certain work visas, particularly those used in the new technology sector, with the stated objective of reserving positions for Americans.