The United States has announced that it will not take in any new foreign students seeking online-only study.
The policy change was announced in a statement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In a memo to college officials, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Friday said new students who were not already enrolled as of March 9 will “likely not be able to obtain” visas if they intend to take courses entirely online.
The announcement primarily affects new students hoping to enroll at universities that will provide classes entirely online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
“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.”
President Donald Trump has suspended several kinds of visas for foreigners during the coronavirus crisis.
That measure had been seen as a move by Trump to put pressure on educational institutions that are adopting a cautious approach to reopening amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump is eager for schools at all levels to reopen with in-person classes as a sign of a return to normality.
Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester but Harvard has said all its classes for the 2020-21 academic year will be conducted online, “with rare exceptions.”