Jul 25, 2020 05:06 PM

U.S. Takes New Aim at Online-Only International Students

What’s new: In the latest twist to an evolving policy on foreign students studying in the U.S., the country’s immigration department has issued new rules forbidding visas for new students coming to the country if all of their courses are online.

“Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 (2020) 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% online,” the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a Friday statement on its website. 

Haven’t I heard this before? Whether students who take all their courses online while studying at American institutions should be concurrently allowed to live in the U.S. has become a subject of intense debate since many such institutions moved all their classes online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICE issued guidelines on July 6 saying students in online-only programs couldn’t get visas to live in the U.S., only to reverse itself the next week after being sued by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

After ICE’s reversal, Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow anticipated the agency could take new action to one more try to restrict online-only students. “While the government may attempt to issue a new directive, our legal arguments remain strong and the court has retained jurisdiction, which would allow us to seek judicial relief immediately to protect our international students should the government again act unlawfully,” he said in a July 14 statement

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese, click here.

Related: U.S. U-Turns on Policy That Threatened International Students With Deportation

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