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General News    H3'ed 7/11/20

ICE Threatens to Deport International Students Taking Online Courses

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It is unknown what post-COVID education will look like in America.

Yet in a month colleges and universities are expected to begin their fall semesters.

Harvard University has already decided to move all classes online.

Yale is doing the same.

Some schools are planning on allowing students on campus, but capping classes at much lower percentages.

Rice University, for example, will hold classes with more than 100 students remotely.

For all its flaws and less-than-ideal teacher/student interaction, online learning helped millions of students complete their studies as the pandemic forced institutions to shut down this spring.

Of vital importance to American academia are its over one million international students--5.5 percent of the total student population--who either choose to remain here after graduation to enrich our culture, or return to their native countries to apply the skills they acquired.

But those scholars who happen to attend colleges and universities opting not to offer in-person instruction to mitigate coronavirus contagion may be looking at deportation should a policy Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday be allowed to stand.

In its latest assault on immigrants, ICE explained student F-1 and M-1 visa holders may maintain their legal status by transferring to institutions offering in-person classes.

This is particularly problematic since regulations require F-1 visa students are only permitted to enroll in a maximum of one class--three credit hours--online.

The proposed policy states some students taking online/in-person combinations will be permitted to exceed the current maximum if schools certify their courses are not exclusively held online.

F-1 students in English-language training programs and those with M-1 visas, for vocational programs, however, will not be able to enroll in any online classes.

Tennessee-based immigration attorney, Greg Siskind, warned:

"A lot of universities are totally dependent on international students to survive. That's particularly true in science and engineering departments where Americans are not enrolling in sufficient numbers to keep departments going. This is going to result in a dramatic drop in enrollment in US schools in my view. And it's going to cause long-term damage to our higher education system."

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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