Foreign students could face deportation as their colleges move online, ICE says

The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to foreign students enrolled in schools or programs that plan to go online during the fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement that has local colleges trying to figure out exactly how their students will be affected by the rule.

In a news release Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students attending schools or programs operating entirely online “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

Students enrolled in such programs must either leave the country or take other measures like transferring to a school with in-person instruction “to remain in lawful status.”

“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” the release stated.

What about CSULB and LBCC?

Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach both accept international students and both have announced a shift to mostly online classes for the fall semester.

CSULB previously mentioned that “some in-person learning and hybrid classes will still be possible through appropriate safety precautions.”

CSULB spokesman Gregory Woods said the school will potentially be offering about 320 course sections with hybrid/in-person learning modalities mainly with courses that have labs and clinical requirements.

“At this time, we and the CSU Chancellor’s Office are still reviewing the announced federal policies regarding international students,” Woods said.

CSULB officials said there are about 1,700 international students enrolled at the university.

At LBCC, there will be “some face-to-face labs in some areas” this fall. It’s unclear how many international students are currently enrolled at the campus.

Representatives for LBCC could not be reached for comment.

Who does this affect?

These new rules apply to nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students, who are enrolled in either academic or vocational programs.

Officials said F-1 students who are studying full time at accredited academic institutions may only take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online. If an F-1 student is enrolled at a school with a hybrid model—a mix of online and in-person classes—they can take more than one class or three credit hours online.

These exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursuing vocational degrees since they are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.
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