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Tuesday July 7, 2020 – Kenyan students in the United States are among international students facing imminent deportation or forced departure from the US after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) modified temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students yesterday.

The Students and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced new directives for the students taking online courses during the fall 2020 semester with the US Department of Homeland Security planning to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.

The Customs Department announced that the students will be deported or will be asked to leave the US if their universities switch to online-only courses owing to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

This means that international students will attend online classes from their own countries rather than in the US. 

“Due to Covid-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters.”

“This policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the Covid-19 emergency,” ICE detailed.

“ICE stated that students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

“The US State Department explained that it will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” ICE added.

It further directed that active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must 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.

Nonimmigrant students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes were directed to take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

Universities in the US initiated transition to online courses with Havard being among the front liners.

However, the decision by ICE caught many unawares.


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