The insurgence of COVID-19 throughout the world has left many universities unsure of how to proceed for the upcoming fall semester. This past spring semester, many colleges went fully online after it became clear that COVID-19 was highly contagious and no vaccine was on the horizon. Things have not cleared up as much as expected since then. As higher education institutions begin to roll out their plans for the upcoming school year, the eligibility of international students may be on the line. Recent guidelines set in place by the Trump administration will leave many international student visas invalid, forcing them to return home.
Do I Have to Return Home?
In early July, the Trump administration announced its new policy for international students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since many universities are turning to an all-online platform for the upcoming fall semester, there were questions about whether international students who rely on visas could live in the U.S. while taking these online classes. Every college’s fall plan differs as they decide what is best for their institution, professors, and students. Some universities will have a hybrid course system where select courses are offered in-person while others are offered online. Other universities are not offering any in-person courses to avoid possible exposure and contagion on campuses across the country.
Originally, the Trump administration had banned all international students from remaining in the U.S. if they were taking only online courses. These regulations placed universities in a difficult spot, having to choose between offering in-person courses and placing their professors and students at risk of contracting COVID-19 or losing thousands of dollars in student tuition as many international students return home. Displacing these international students also could have increased the risk of contagious students returning to their home countries and further spreading COVID-19.
The Trump administration has revised its initial stance on international student visas to address these issues. According to the details of the new guidelines, international student visas remain valid for those who actively enrolled in American universities before March 9. Those who attempt to enroll as an international student after this March 9 deadline will no longer be allowed to stay in the U.S. to attend school if that school does not offer in-person classes.
School officials have been instructed to deny Form I-20 requests, which act as a certificate of eligibility for visa applications, to students who are outside of the U.S. Luckily, international students who are already residing in the U.S. are eligible to remain in the U.S. and virtually attend these online courses.
Contact a Joliet Student Visa Lawyer
Since the Trump administration’s recent announcement occurred just a few short weeks before the start of the upcoming school year, many international students may be unsure of how to proceed. If you are a student relying on a visa to remain in the U.S., you should immediately speak with an experienced immigration attorney. The Foray Firm is well-versed in all areas of immigration law, including recent updates regarding student visa regulations. Our legal team works tirelessly for all of our clients so that they are fully aware of their rights as a student visa holder. Contact our Will County immigration attorneys at 312-702-1293 to schedule your free consultation — we speak English and Spanish to accommodate more clients.