Foreign students risk losing VISA if they take online courses


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — ICE announced Monday it will not allow foreign students to take all online courses during the pandemic. If they do, they risk losing their student VISA.

According to the agency, those with F-1 and M-1 student VISAS must take at least one class in-person at a college or university. The agency says those who don’t comply may be deported.

According to ICE, those students whose schools offer online online courses must leave the country or transfer to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.

KTSM reached out to the University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College, and New Mexico State University to determine how the ICE directive will impact their Fall scheduling.

UTEP says there are more than 1,400 international students enrolled in the university this fall.

“We will work individually with each of them so that their course schedule meets federal requirements for their F-1 visa. We will work with each of them so that they can start or continue progress toward earning their degree,” a statement from the university read.

UTEP went on to say they’ll be providing additional information directly to students in the next few days. The statement came hours after the university announced they’ll be releasing updated Fall class schedules on Tuesday for students to reassess which classes they’ll be taking in the upcoming semester.

El Paso Community College says they’re reviewing the updated information by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and ICE. They say they have around 200 international students enrolled each semester and they value the diversity and multiple perspectives they bring into the classroom.

EPCC is focused on continuing to provide affordable, high-quality education to all of our students. We will continue to assess the results of these changes and keep our students informed.   EPCC is committed to doing everything we can, within the law, to help students move their lives and education forward,” EPCC’s statement read.

NMSU told KTSM it is also reviewing the updated guidance and will provide a statement on Tuesday.

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