July 6 (UPI) -- International students in the United States on student visas cannot attend a university this fall if their studies are entirely online, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday.
In a statement, ICE announced that students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas who attend universities that operate entirely online amid the COVID-19 pandemic "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States."
"The U.S. 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 the U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States," ICE said.
The agency added that F-1 students who attend schools that provide a mixture of online and in-person classes will be permitted to take some online courses.
ICE added that the schools must certify to the Student Exchange Visitor Program "that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load ... [and] that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree."
F-1 students whose universities will maintain full in-person classes will remain bound by federal laws that allow a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
Students who remain in the United States while taking only online courses could face "immigration consequences," including "the initiation of removal proceedings," ICE said.
The policy announcement came on the same day that Harvard University announced it plans to allow 40 percent of undergraduates to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester, including all first-year students and those who need to be on campus to "progress academically."
Princeton announced it will allow undergraduate students to return with reduced capacity, with first-year students and juniors returning for the fall semester and sophomores and seniors returning in the spring.