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U.S. To Withdraw Visas For Foreign Students If Classes Are Fully Online

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The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced modifications to temporary exemptions for non-immigrant students taking online classes due to the coronavirus pandemic for the fall 2020 semester.

The new rule does not allow foreign students to stay in the United States this fall semester if they are taking classes online only. They will face deportation unless they switch to a course with in-person tuition.

ICE announced on Monday that non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

"The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States," ICE said in a statement.

Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs have been advised to leave the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.

If not, they may face immigration consequences, including the initiation of removal proceedings.

Monday's announcement requires universities to certify within 10 days whether they will be fully open, operate on a hybrid model or offer online-only classes."

Non-immigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. Such students are required to leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their non-immigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.

The new amendment in temporary exemptions could affect large numbers of foreign students who travel to the U.S. to study every year.

It comes at a time many universities are moving classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Department issues F-1 and M-1 visas for academic and vocational students from abroad.

In fiscal 2019, more than 388,000 F visas and nearly 10,000 M visas were issued.

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