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ICE: New International Students Can’t Take Online-Only Schedules This Fall

New international students won’t be able to enter the country while taking online-only courses this fall, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed this weekend.

Although the updated policy was rescinded earlier this month for current international students, the guidelines will still apply for those who enroll moving forward. Students who were enrolled before March 9 won’t be affected by the policy.

“Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online,” the agency said.

Newly enrolling students can enter the United States as long as their respective universities provide them with at least one in-person class. However, the updated policy won’t apply to students whose colleges and universities revert to remote learning this fall after initially providing in-person instruction.

Earlier this summer, ICE’s updated policy was met with stark criticism from universities across the country. Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit against the guidelines soon after. Nearly 60 colleges, including Penn State, joined an amicus brief written in support of the lawsuit. Hours later on that same day, ICE rescinded the policy and said it wouldn’t deport international students studying online this fall.

Although Penn State was “very pleased” to hear the majority of its international students won’t be affected by the rule change, administrators remain concerned for the university’s newly enrolled and prospective students.

“As this situation evolves, the University will continue to work with our international students, who are a welcome and vital part of our community,” Penn State spokesperson Lisa Powers said. “Our international students need to rely, like all our students, faculty and staff, on a safe and flexible learning environment that will help make possible the attainment of their educational goals in a safe and healthy manner. That is in America’s best interest, and, we believe, simply the right thing to do.”

According to President Eric Barron’s report during July’s Board of Trustees meeting, more than 7,000 international students from more than 115 countries are enrolled at Penn State campuses. He noted Penn State’s Office of Global Programs is providing financial assistance to students and contacting nearly 1,400 first-year students to provide one-to-one virtual orientation experiences.

“Our international students are vital members of the Penn State community and bring diversity and new perspectives to our classrooms and campuses,” Barron said.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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