In a move that will adversely impact hundreds of thousands of Indian students, the US immigration authority has announced that foreign students will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only classes in this fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a press release on Monday that for the fall 2020 semester students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the US.
"The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programmes that are fully online for the fall semester nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States," the release said referring to the September to December semester.
The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.
International students enrolled in academic programmes at US universities and colleges study on an F-1 visa and those enrolled in technical programmes at vocational or other recognised non-academic institutions, other than a language training programme come to the US on an M-1 visa.
India sent the largest number of students (251,290) to the US after China (478,732) in 2017 and 2018, according to the latest Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) 'SEVIS by the Numbers Report' 2018.