US: ICE announces rules blocking new international students

The guidelines are the latest move by the Trump administration to block international students in online-only courses.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new guidelines on Friday that will block any new students planning to enrol in online-only study from entering the United States, following widespread criticism of previous rules that would have international students home.

The rules apply to “nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9” under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), ICE wrote on its website.

These students “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”, the statement continued.

“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.”

International students are usually permitted to take just one online class each term, though the coronavirus pandemic has caused universities to expand online-only courses.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the new rules “mirrored the desires of some at the Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s parent agency, and at the White House, where some officials were taken off guard by ICE’s July guidance”, citing two unnamed sources familiar with discussions.

Lawsuits also said the policy would damage their economies. New York City said international students contribute $3bn to its economy every year.

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