International Students Banned From Online-Only Instruction

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The new Department of Homeland Security rule prohibits international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if their colleges adopt an online-only instruction model for the fall.

New guidance for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stoked anger and confusion from students, faculty, and immigration advocates.

The new temporary final rule, issued Monday afternoon, prohibits international students from returning to or remaining in the United States this fall if the colleges they attend adopt online-only instruction models amid the pandemic.

A growing number of colleges — including Harvard University — have announced that they will reopen their campuses in the fall but conduct classes online. Even with campuses open, international students will be prohibited from studying in the United States under the rule.

“It’s just mean-spirited,” said Allen Orr, president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He noted the myriad logistical issues it poses for international students.

“You are discontinuing whatever you may have already been in. You might have already had a lease,” he said. “Even if these colleges have school online, some places may be in different hours and different time zones.”

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