What are the new ICE guidelines for international students?

On Monday July 6, 2020 ICE announced update guidelines for international students amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. They are effective immediately. The guidelines rescinded the temporary guidelines place in response to the COVID-19 crises that allowed international students to take online classes while remaining in the US or returning to their home country while maintaining their F-1 student status. The updated guidelines require that international students take in class courses as per ICE guidelines. If the school that the student attends will only offer online fall class, the student must transfer to another school or depart the United States. The student can only take one online class or 3 credit hours during a full-time semester. The guidelines further states that English only programs require that all courses be in-class courses.

Furthermore, new visas will not be issued to international students who attend colleges that are entirely online. These updated guidelines will have a severe impact on both students and colleges and universities. Prior to the release of the guidelines, many universities, including Harvard and MIT, stated that they were only going to offer Online only classes in the fall to prevent an outbreak of the virus in its schools. As such, Harvard University and MIT filed a lawsuit against ICE in order to stop this regulation.

The guidelines indicate to those attending schools online that they must “depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school within-person instruction.” The guidelines also indicate that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow students enrolled in colleges fully online for the fall semester to enter the U.S.

It is likely that a temporary injunction is issued stopping the guidelines from taking effect until the court rules on the merits. A formal ruling is yet to be announced.

For more information, please contact our office for a free telephone consultation (15 minute) at 248-557-3645.

Sam R. Saif

Managing Attorney, Immigration Law Department

The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz, PLLC

phone: (248) 557-3645 fax: (248) 200-0645

email: sam@joumanakayrouz.com1000 Town Center, Suite 800 Southfield, MI 48075


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