U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released a statement Friday announcing new incoming international students will not be allowed to enter the country if their classes are only online. Students actively enrolled in universities, however, will be able to keep their I-20 visa and continue their studies in the United States, even if all of their classes are online.  

“Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online,” the statement reads. “Additionally, designated school officials should not issue a Form I-20 to a nonimmigrant student in new or initial status who is outside of the U.S. and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online.”

This policy comes after the Supreme Court rescinded the initial Trump administration’s ICE policy preventing all international students from staying in the United States if all of their classes were online. 

Many students have expressed concerns about the original policy regarding all international students and professors in the United States. Professors and Graduate Student Instructors have also expressed concern about the government changing their policies in the future. 

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with other institutions –– including the University of Michigan –– filed a lawsuit against the administration to allow international students to stay in the United States if they choose to only take online classes at their institutions.

The University of Michigan will have a hybrid curriculum in the fall, but many students are not optimistic about in-person for the upcoming school year. The University issued a statement in support of international students in response to the original ICE policy.

“We continue to oppose arbitrary restrictions on international students who have been and continue to be valuable members of our community of scholars,” the University’s statement reads. “Even with this initial review that shows a less direct impact on our students, we agree with the statement from the Association of American Universities – of which U-M is a member – that calls this policy ‘immensely misguided and deeply cruel to the tens of thousands of international students who come to the United States every year.”

The International Center updated their information about the fall semester July 27 to reflect the policy on new international students. Since the University is planning to operate under a hybrid system, the website recommends new international students to choose classes that are in person.

“New students who plan to study in the U.S. for Fall Term 2020 must choose some in-person or hybrid classes,” the statement reads. “They are not limited to a specific number of online credits, but their classes cannot be completely online. They must be enrolled full-time. All students who are in the US can remain in the US if U-M switches to an entirely online model mid-semester, or when U-M switches to all-remote learning as planned on November 30.”

Universities that are completely online, such as Harvard and the University of Southern California, have told their incoming international students they will not be able to come to campus and encourage them to start their college classes from their home countries. 

Many universities have also switched from a hybrid or in-person semester to a completely remote form of instruction as a potential second wave starts to emerge in the United States. 

Summer Managing News Editor Jasmin Lee can be reached at itsshlee@umich.edu


This article has been updated to include information about new international students from the International Center. 

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