New U.S. guidelines require exchange students to take in-person classes this fall

New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, announced July 6 a list of rules and exemptions for foreign exchange students who are located in the United States and planning to take classes in the country during the coronavirus pandemic this fall.

According to a news release from ICE, individuals in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program cannot take a fully online course load in the fall and are required to take in-person classes to remain in the U.S. or be permitted into the country.

Eligible students enrolled in primary or post-secondary schools that are holding in-person classes will be permitted to take one class, or three credit hours, of online work, but other course work must be done in person, according to the news release.

Those at schools with a hybrid model of online and in-person programs can take more than one online course if the school can “clarify that the program is not entirely online,” according to the news release.

Students in the program are not allowed to maintain their eligibility while only taking online courses, and those enrolled at schools only offering online options will either not be issued visas to enter the country or be required to leave the U.S. if currently present, according to ICE.


“If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave,” the release states.

Students can also choose to transfer into a different, eligible school that is offering in-person classes to maintain their eligibility, the release states.

More information about the Student and Exchange Visitor Program can be found here.


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