Almost two weeks after rescinding a rule on all international students and online courses, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a new guidance on whether newly-enrolled international students can take online courses without a single in-person course.
The agency, which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, issued the guidance this past week. Inside Higher Ed reported that newly-enrolled international students cannot take all their courses online and have to be enrolled in some in-person courses. But, unlike the previous rule, new international students will not be penalized if their university or college switches from in-person or hybrid courses to online-only courses during the semester.
ICE’s guidance said that the agency won’t rescind international students’ nonimmigrant status in that specific case, which would have led to the students’ return back to their home country.
The other rule about all international students and online courses had previously asserted that all international students could not be online-only students and would face removal from the U.S. to their home country. But after several lawsuits were filed by higher education institutions, such as Harvard University and MIT, ICE backtracked on the rule.