International students face uncertainty after ICE announces changes for student visas


Courtesy of NY Daily News

International students all over the country were shocked to learn their college career and ability to study in the United States could be in jeopardy if their universities transition to only-online courses in the fall. A new federal guidance announced on July 6 requires international students to leave the U.S. if they are not enrolled in on-campus courses. 


The new Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance states, “Non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” The guidance also states students who are impacted by the change should consider transferring to a university that offers on-campus courses in the fall to retain their student-visas. 

In order to be exempt from losing their student visas, international students must attend colleges or universities that adopt a hybrid teaching model, a combination of online and in-person classes, ICE stated.

Genesis Iscoa, a political science major, was shocked by the announcement and faces the tough decision of possibly taking a semester off and returning to Honduras if the ICE guidance does not change in the following weeks. 

“We basically come here and like everything that we spend here goes to this country, not to ours. We’re giving a lot of ourselves and, for them to basically shut us out when you know we’re actually beneficial to them, it’s mind-blowing,” Iscoa said. 

Iscoa added the ICE guidance puts the health of students at risk by requiring them to return to their home countries, being that many countries are still reporting high numbers of COVID-19 positive cases.

While Quinnipiac is transitioning to a hybrid model, the university recognizes the announcement brings doubt and raises concern to many international students and their families amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On July 10, the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement (DCGE) held a meeting via Zoom to address the new guidance. The meeting was led by Sarah Driscoll, director of international student services, who broke down the new ‘rules’ and answered questions sent in by students. 

Driscoll stated that the DCGE will work with students on a case-by-case basis to determine the best choice to move forward with their educational goals. She added students should inform the DCGE of their decision whether it is to change their courses in order to remain in the U.S., return to their home country and take classes online or take a semester off, as soon as possible. 

“We support you and we are continuing our advocacy efforts both on campus, within the state of Connecticut and nationally to adjust this ruling that impacts students around the country in an unfair way, as well as advocacy here on campus to make sure all of our students are able to continue their studies without interruption and make progress towards your educational goals.”

This is a developing story as U.S. colleges and universities have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration and the new ICE guidance.