American colleges and universities across the country are scrambling to provide guidance to students after a new Trump administration order released earlier this week. The new policy will require international students to attend in-person classes in the 2020-2021 school year. This includes at schools that are temporarily hosting courses online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who cannot meet this requirement will face visa revocation and deportation.
Foreign nationals attending higher education institutions in the United States account for more than 1.1 million visa holders. The declaration also applies to students in vocational programs. As more and more colleges and universities explore online or hybrid teaching models for the upcoming fall semester, they are left wondering if they will need to contend with ICE come September.
But the issue is not settled
Many universities have expressed concern and protest to the new announcement, especially because it comes weeks before fall semesters begin. Some universities are even going so far as to challenge this policy in court. Last week, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed jointly for an injunction against the new policy.
In the meantime, international students across the nation are rushing to find a schooling situation that complies with the in-person attendance policies. This is increasingly difficult. Students are facing unprecedented housing instability as universities close their dormitories. They are also facing economic insecurity from lost on-campus employment.
The American immigration system is notoriously complex during normal times, and this change is in the wake of a slew of other radical policy changes. If you have concerns about your immigration status and your visa, reach out to an immigration lawyer who can help explain the new policies and how they impact you and your life.