1 Million People May Need to Leave the U.S. for This Reason in the Fall

More than a million people could be forced to uproot their lives this fall due to this new order.

The coronavirus pandemic has uprooted many people's lives over the past few months, whether because they lost their source of income or because they're struggling to recover from the virus itself. Now, COVID-19 is affecting another group of people in a major way: international students. According to a new order from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), students from abroad whose stateside schools are operating fully online during the fall 2020 semester will not be able to remain in the U.S. CNN reports that, according to the Migration Policy Institute, this recent order could affect 1.2 million international students in the U.S., potentially forcing them to leave the country.

On July 6, ICE released a statement that said, "Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."

This adjustment not only affects incoming students but also students currently residing in the U.S. "Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings," wrote ICE.

International college students working together

During the 2018-19 academic year, the U.S. had 1,095,299 international students—a record number for the country and the fourth consecutive year that over 1 million international students were studying in the U.S., according to the Institute of International Education.

Some universities have finalized their plans for the fall semester, while others are still formulating them. The solutions are split between operating fully online, welcoming back only a percentage of students in-person, and a hybrid of both online and in-person classes. Students whose schools are facilitating hybrid classes can still remain in the States since the order only applies to universities that are transitioning to fully online classes.

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Of course, as coronavirus cases continue to spike in many U.S. states, universities' plans could change before the end of August, when semesters tend to begin. International students will be patiently waiting to hear about their school's finalized plans as their fate in the U.S. now lies in the hands of university officials. For information on school reopenings, check out 70 Percent of Doctors Say This Is When They'll Send Their Kids Back to School.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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