The U.S. government has decided not to issue visas to foreign freshman students who are only taking courses at universities that only offer online classes in this fall semester, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington chose to allow students who are enrolled in and are taking courses at American universities to keep their visa status even though they are only taking online classes, but has decided to apply to freshman students the regulations that it had been pushing to introduce.
According to National Public Radio in the U.S., the Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that the guideline designed to use flexibility in visa restrictions to foreign students will be applied to students who enrolled before March 9.” It means students who were not registered until that time will not be granted visa if they plan to only take online classes in this fall semester.
The number of foreign students who will enter the U.S. in the new semester in September is around 250,000, said the American Council on Education. The National Foundation for American Policy said the number of foreign students who will enroll at American universities this year will decline by 63 percent to 98 percent from the previous year due to Washington’s decision to restrict visa issuance and the COVID-19 outbreak. The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted that the Donald Trump administration is misusing the pandemic to take aim at youth immigrants, and that it will add to burden on the lives of hundreds of thousands of foreign students.
In an email to students, Harvard University said that new freshman students from foreign countries cannot enter the campus in this fall semester due to the guidelines on 100 percent online classes, and that they should take courses Harvard remotely at home or can defer admission.