Int’l students must leave US if studies go entirely online this fall. Here are Boston colleges’ reopening plans so far
This story will be updated periodically. Last updated: July 7
International students cannot stay in the country this fall if their college or university operates entirely online, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The ruling sent international students and colleges into turmoil as they struggled to understand the new rules. Some students expressed concern that they would have to attend classes in person, even if they were worried about health risks.
“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” read a release on Monday from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
International students attending universities offering a mixture of online and in-person classes in the fall, such as Northeastern University and Boston University will be allowed to take “more than one class or three credit hours online.”
“These schools must certify to SEVP… 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,” read the release. In that case, students are permitted to stay in the U.S.
International students currently in the U.S. who are solely enrolled in online courses for the fall semester “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.” If they fail to do so, they could face “removal proceedings”.
It’s unclear how many schools or students around the country are affected. The new rules left them struggling to respond to student questions.
On Wednesday, Northeastern University posted this statement on its Instagram account: “The current pandemic has only underscored the vital importance of global cooperation and collaboration. The new guidance from Homeland Security creates chaos for international students and has the effect of weakening American higher education — one of our nation’s signature strengths. While we believe the hybrid flexible model we have developed at Northeastern will insulate our international students from the pernicious effects of the new rule, we steadfastly oppose this divisive approach.”
The announcement came on the same day that Harvard College announced that all its courses in the fall and spring will be online. However, first-year students and students who have “been approved to return due to inadequate conditions for learning in their home environment, will be invited to return to campus,” the school announced.
Harvard College is one of 14 schools that make up Harvard University.
Each of the schools is making its own plans. 12 have announced that their fall semester will be conducted entirely online.
In the Boston area, UMass Amherst and UMass Boston, as well as graduate programs in Simmons University have also announced that they plan to provide nearly all courses online with the exception of some in-person lab courses in science and nursing.
According to university websites, 10 Greater Boston colleges and universities are planning to hold at least some in-person classes in the fall. Those schools are: Bentley University, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, Emerson College, MIT, Northeastern University, Suffolk University, Tufts University, and Wellesley College.
Many of these universities are planning to offer multiple formats of teaching, including Boston University, which has launched their “Learn From Anywhere” framework. According to the school’s announcement, they will offer online, in-person, and asynchronous courses. This ensures that students who will not be able to make it to campus, whether due to a travel ban, issues with getting their visa, or public health concerns, can continue their education remotely, while others can enjoy a semblance of a face-to-face learning experience.
Other schools plan to implement different teaching formats based on the course.. Depending on the necessity for hands-on instruction, some classes may be conducted in person, while others are online or a mixture of the two. For instance, Bentley University announced that their faculty is in the process of deciding the best teaching method for each course. “We anticipate that most classes will be taught remotely. For those courses that still meet in person, classroom capacities will vary depending on the public health guidance,” the school said.
Foreign students will have to wait for correspondence from their respective international offices on how their universities will navigate these new rules from ICE.
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