RICHMOND, Va. -- The president of Virginia State University is urging an "immediate reconsideration" of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy that would require international students on student visas to leave the U.S. if their university course load is entirely online.
"New immigration policies that restrict international students’ access to online programs and courses have created yet another hurdle for colleges and universities working to provide continuity of instruction and safely ensure educational access in the midst of this global pandemic," VSU President Dr. Makola M. Abdullah wrote.
On July 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division (ICE) ruled that international students who study in the United States on an F-1 visa can no longer remain in the U.S.if their course load for Fall 2020 is entirely online. The U.S. State Department will not issue F-1 visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online, and these students will be barred entry/re-entry into the US.
"Currently enrolled international students must either scramble to transfer to institutions offering in-person instruction when they reopen in the fall or risk possible deportation from the US," Abdullah wrote. "Institutions they attend must certify that these students are not taking fully online course loads. This policy not only creates unnecessary and burdensome disruptions for international students but also unfairly jeopardizes the completion of their academic programs and their ability to earn the very academic credentials that attracted them to America’s institutions of higher education."
Abdullah also said that the policy is antithetical to the efforts of universities who are trying to reopen responsibly in accordance with local and state guidelines and recommendations.
"The addition of online options for instruction not only helps minimize the adverse impact of these changes but, more importantly, also reduces students’ and faculty’s vulnerability to community spread," Abdullah wrote. "A pre-COVID-19 campus setting is no longer an option in the wake of the continued spread of this highly infectious disease."
"Virginia State University echoes the call for ICE to rescind this policy immediately and advocate an end to any policies that create undue pressure on our institutions to take actions that do not serve well our communities’ health and well-being and thwart our efforts to achieve our respective missions and goals."