Update (7/14/2020, 3:40 p.m.): A federal judge announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will rescind the policy to force international students taking online-only courses to leave the U.S., according to The Harvard Crimson.
A July 6 announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stipulated that international students would not be allowed to stay in the U.S. this fall if they are not taking any in-person classes.
The new regulations applies to students with F-1 and M-1 nonresident visas.
The announcement comes at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing universities nationwide to switch to a hybrid model combining in-person and virtual classes, or else go entirely virtual. Under the new ICE guidelines, international students whose schools are going all virtual may not remain in the U.S. and are encouraged to consider other options such a transferring to a school offering in-person instruction. Those attending a university adopting a hybrid model, however, are eligible to take more than one class or three credit hours online if they are also enrolled in in-person courses.
University of Pennsylvania, which will be implementing a hybrid model, responded swiftly to the new ICE guidelines with condemnation hours after it was announced last Monday. In an email to the Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy shared the Ivy League school’s displeasure with the new policy.
“The educational requirements for international students should be the same as for domestic students — not higher or different in any way,” he said. The university enrolled 5,333 international students in fall 2019. It also submitted an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Harvard University and MIT to block the policy.
Penn has joined 58 other colleges and universities in support of a lawsuit filed by @Harvard and @MIT to block the new federal policy revoking F-1 visas for international students if their course of study is entirely online. https://t.co/jsfGBoKOUa
— Penn (@Penn) July 14, 2020
In North Philadelphia, Temple University’s director of immigration services for the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, Joan McGinley, said in an email to Temple’s international students that they should not be affected by the ICE guidelines, as reported by The Temple News.
“Temple’s continuing international students are permitted to remain in the United States as long as they enroll at Temple in a combination of in-person and online delivery methods (hybrid scenario) and take the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program,” she said.
STEM programs at U.S. colleges and universities would suffer in particular without international students: According to National Science Foundation research, more than half of STEM graduate students in 2018 were international students.
Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that international students contribute $44.7 billion to the economy.
ICE’s announcement to force international students comes weeks after the Trump administration froze work visas for foreign workers through the end of 2020, citing an “America first” mentality for reviving the job market.
“However, policies designed to curb immigration end up hurting American workers and also inhibit American dominance in the global economy,” wrote Khuram Zaman, CEO of D.C.-based digital agency Fifth Tribe and an entrepreneur in residence at Georgetown University, in a guest post for Technical.ly. Read it in full here.Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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