International students pay the price of the pandemic
In a statement by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on Monday, international students attending online-only universities in the Fall will need to go back to their home countries.
It is without a doubt that the pandemic has flipped the world on its head. Universities are now considering going fully virtual, and jobs are not requiring their employees to come in until possibly the new year.
These are all protective measures. However, ICE saw this as a way to get international students out of the country.
In a press release on July 6, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) was modified for students taking online courses as a result of the pandemic. Though it is yet to be final, the temporary exemptions for the Fall 2020 semester include:
- Students attending schools operating entirely online may NOT take a full online course load and remain in the U.S.
- The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in fully-online courses for the fall semester and will bar them from the U.S.
- Active students currently in the U.S. in these programs must leave the country or take other actions like transferring to a school with in-person instruction to maintain lawful status.
- Students whose schools will have normal in-person classes will be protected by the existing federal regulations.
- F-1 students who will attend a hybrid model of classes, meaning both online and in-person, will be allowed to take one online course, however the schools must certify to SEVP through the I-20 form that the curriculum is not entirely online, and that the student is not taking a completely online course load.
According to the Institute of International Education, over a million higher education students in the U.S. are international ones. NAFSA’s economic analysis also reported that international students in the U.S. contributed $41 billion and occupied 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year.
The world is living through unprecedented times. A public health crisis that America barely has a grip on with spiking numbers in different states daily.
However, it is apparent that despite a time where the government should be protecting and providing clarity, they are creating confusion and uncertainty in already uncertain times.
Education is essential. Universities have been trying to safely reopen their schools despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, officials giving students impossible ultimatums does not make things easier for an already difficult situation. How is it the students fault that one of the only ways to stay healthy and free from the virus is to stay home?