On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gave international students in the U.S. the choice of transferring to a school with in-person classes or leave the country.
The move to remove international students from the country if their studies are changed to online-only options will increase pressure on schools in the U.S. to resume in-person classroom operations, which is something Trump has insisted they do on his Twitter account. These schools, like their Canadian counterparts, depend on tuition fees from international students. But schools also have a duty to protect their students and staff while the U.S. is in the midst of a surging COVID-19 pandemic.
What the new rules mean for international students in the U.S.
The new rules are a modification of a COVID-19 related amendment that provided protection for international students in the U.S. to remain in the country even if their classes were held online.
- International students in the U.S. who are attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the country. Students in this situation must either transfer to a school that offers an in-person classroom setting or leave the country.
- International students are only allowed to take one online course or three credit hours.
- For students attending a school that offers a hybrid model of in-person and online courses may be allowed to stay in the country if they meet certain conditions. Students will need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.
These new regulations are aligned with the Trump administration’s agenda to drastically reduce immigration to the U.S. Two weeks ago Trump signed an executive order banning almost all work visas to the U.S. and stopped the processing of overseas green card applications.
What Canada offers international students
International students in Canada who are already in the country are welcome to remain, whether their studies are online or in-person. There are also special considerations being made by IRCC for students who wish to extend their status in Canada so they can avoid international travel. Canada is also still accepting applications for student permits. If your classes in Canada are only offered online however, you must defer admission until your program has transitioned to an in-person classroom setting.