[b]Education interrupted. Years lost. Students face ‘cruelty’ of new visa policy.[/b]
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office issued the “July 6 Directive,” which states that international students enrolled in online instruction face deportation unless they switch to in-person classes, which means that students currently outside the country won’t be allowed back in. Because of that, more than one million international students currently in the U.S. have to choose between losing their visa status—and throwing away years of study—or risking their health.
While it’s allowed for a narrow mix of online and in-person instruction, the details are unclear, and it doesn’t allow for a completely online course load, even in a COVID-19 spike. If any face-to-face class moves online, students would immediately lose their visas.
In response, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are suing the Trump administration. The lawsuit asks the courts to prevent ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful. Other universities, such as Columbia, Northwestern, Duke, Yale, and the University of Massachusetts, are also supporting the lawsuit.
The new visa rule is also in opposition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines about social distancing: avoiding large gatherings, and wearing face masks to bring COVID-19 infection and death rates down.
Additionally, international students who are forced to leave aren’t sure where they could go. Some students may not be able to afford tickets for travel, and many borders around the world are still closed due to the pandemic - including some that are completely locked down. Students whose institutions are going online in the fall are scrambling to transfer to schools that are offering in-person instruction, but their options are limited because the directive was issued after many admissions deadlines had passed. That also means losing credits they’ve spent years earning.
Givology Staff's Blog
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