‘We will work with you,’ colleges tell foreign students torched by virtual learning rule

Top Stories

Feds say they won't issue visas to those enrolled in programs that are fully online this fall

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Some Texas colleges say they will work with foreign students to ensure their visas aren’t out of compliance with federal regulations on virtual learning.

The reassurance comes after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SVEP).

The changes did away with exemptions allowed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic so non-immigrant students here on F-1 and M-1 visas could take only online courses. The new rules are in effect for the fall semester.

ICE said the Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” ICE said a statement posted on the Department of Homeland Security web page Monday.

The University of Texas at El Paso expects to enroll more than 1,400 international students 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,” UTEP said a statement issued in response to the changes ICE announced.

The university urged international students with questions or concerns to contact the Office of International Programs at oip@utep.edu or 915-747-5664.

El Paso Community College (EPCC) officials said they have 200 international students and are reviewing the changes.

“We value the diversity and multiple perspectives they bring into our classrooms,” the college said in a statement. “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.”

Migrant advocates on Monday expressed concerns about forcing students to be present in classrooms while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the country. One lawyer, Iliana Holguin of El Paso, said she feared students were being forced to choose between their health and keeping their student visa.

Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the United States-Mexico border.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com

Images from Armenia

Small patients in Armenia
Yerevan by night.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers in Gyumri.
Doctors unpack medical supplies from The Central Valley.
Fresno Medical Mission at work.
Medical Supplies being unloaded.
Fresno Medical Mission at the ready.
KSEE24 crew witnesses the miracle of life in Gyumri, Armenia.
Life saving work of Central Valley surgeons in Armenia.
Ribbon cutting on new surgical center in Ashtarak Armenia. Fresno donors made this dream come true.
KSEE24 on assignment with the Fresno Medical Mission
Honorary Consulate to Armenia Berj Apkarian explains the crisis facing one hospital.
KSEE24's Stefani Booroojian and Kevin Mahan at the meeting with President Bako Sahakyan.
Medical Meeting in Artsakh.
The President of Artsakh meets with the Fresno Medical Mission.
Learning modern medicine techniques with the Fresno Medical Mission in surgery.
Leaning in for a look. Dr. Brien Tonkinson holds class and helps a patient in Armenia.
Fresno Medical Mission cares on one of the smallest patients in the region. Six-year old Yanna receives life-changing better breathing surgery.