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Education

New international students cannot enter US for online-only programs

by Jyllian Kemsley
August 2, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 30

 

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has clarified its rules regarding international students’ ability to travel to the US for the fall term during the COVID-19 pandemic. New international students may get a visa to travel to the US if they are enrolled in a program involving some in-person instruction but not for online-only programs, according to guidance issued July 24. Students who were enrolled at US institutions as of March 9 and left the country may return, whether programs involve in-person components or are online-only. Similarly, continuing students who remained in the US may stay regardless of instruction method. Embassy and consulate closures as well as lack of flights may still prevent eligible students from traveling to the US, however. The Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March. On July 13, the department announced on Twitter that it was “beginning the phased resumption of routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions.” Meanwhile, the number of flights scheduled worldwide for the week of July 27 was down 50% from the week of July 29, 2019, according to the air travel data provider OAG.

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