ICE Tells Foreign Students to Leave the Country if Their Schools Are Going Online-Only

Unless they can find a way to transfer to a new school before the fall.

President Donald Trump speaking in Washington, DC, on Saturday during a July 4 event.Patrick Semansky/AP

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The Trump administration is giving a draconian choice to foreign students at schools that plan to offer only online courses this fall: Quickly transfer to a school with in-person classes or leave the country.

The new policy announced on Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes as colleges debate how to safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools are resuming in-person courses; others are adopting hybrid models that combine in-person and online courses; and some are going fully online. 

With classes set to begin in September, it’s not clear how students would be able to transfer to a new university in time to stay in the United States. That may be the point.

After failing to get Congress to cut legal immigration, the White House has succeeded in using the pandemic as an excuse to shut off nearly all ways for people to come to the United States. Now it’s extending that crackdown to some students who are already in the country.

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