International students must leave the country this fall if their colleges are remote only. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the news on Monday through a statement, that said modifications have been made to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program's previous exemptions put in place in order to accommodate students during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States," the statement said.
This rule does not apply to colleges who plan to return to campus in the fall. However, F-1 students may not take more than one online class while on campus, and M-1 are forbidden to take any remote courses.
This rule has always applied to F-1 and M-1 visa holders and is nothing new. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program has always had these regulations in place.
Temporary exemptions were given to these students back in the spring due to the aggressive spread of the virus forcing colleges to close. Now that colleges have a choice to reopen or not, these exemptions no longer apply.
Democrats did not take long to comment on ICE's decision.
"Kicking international students out of the US during a global pandemic because their colleges are moving classes online for physical distancing hurts students," wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA).
Kicking international students out of the US during a global pandemic because their colleges are moving classes online for physical distancing hurts students. It’s senseless, cruel, and xenophobic. @ICEgov and @DHSgov must drop this policy immediately. https://t.co/MHYduGA1Pk— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 7, 2020
"This move is cruel, unnecessary, and counterproductive to America’s long-term interests," said Hillary Clinton. "A Trump administration special."
This move is cruel, unnecessary, and counterproductive to America’s long-term interests. A Trump administration special. https://t.co/Be3jFF4urq— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2020
"This despicable and needlessly cruel decision upends the lives of our international students and further tarnishes America’s reputation and competitiveness," said Sen. Kamala Harris (CA). "It's shameful how low this administration will go to distract from Trump’s failed pandemic response."
This despicable and needlessly cruel decision upends the lives of our international students and further tarnishes America’s reputation and competitiveness. It's shameful how low this administration will go to distract from Trump’s failed pandemic response. https://t.co/b9GHRwPzEk— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 7, 2020
President Trump and his administration have been clear that they want schools to reopen in the fall, as learning in person is vital for a young person's education. The same benefits of being in the classroom cannot be met through a Zoom class, even though primary and secondary school officials may claim otherwise.
"SCHOOLS MUST BE OPEN THIS FALL!!!" Trump tweeted.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
"American education must be fully open and fully operational this fall!" replied. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
The move on the Trump administration may provide an added push for schools eager to lock up their campuses over COVID-19 fears.