New International Students Not Allowed to Enter US If Studies Are Entirely Online

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that international students starting a program this fall will not be allowed to enter the United States if their program has moved entirely online.

Instead, international students must follow the guidance originally laid out in March.

“In accordance with March 2020 guidance,” the announcement said, “nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the US to enroll in a US school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online. Additionally, designated school officials should not issue a Form I-20 to a nonimmigrant student in new or initial status who is outside of the US and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online.”

What this development means for first-year international students enrolled in a hybrid program – a combination of both online and in-person classes – is not entirely clear.

This news comes after a federal judge announced earlier this month that the US Department of Homeland Security rescinded a July 6 policy directive forcing international students studying in the United States to enrol in in-person courses to lawfully remain in the US. More than 20 states and dozens of schools, including Harvard and MIT, had filed a suit to prevent the policy from coming into effect.