International students, including Omanis, who are pursuing studies in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced.
Reacting to the news, the Oman embassy in the United States said that it is in contact with the concerned American authorities regarding the new immigration rule. The embassy stated that it seeks to find out the details of the decision and its impact on the students including those currently in Oman.
‘Students will be provided with the latest updates of the decision through the official electronic platforms,’ the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy assured Omani students and their parents that it will spare no effort to overcome all difficulties and achieve what is in their best interest and stability in order to complete their studies easily and successfully.
The move may affect thousands of foreign students as universities in the US were transitioning to online courses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At Harvard, for example, all course instruction will be delivered online, including for students living on campus. For international students, that would mean leaving the US.
In a news release, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas ‘may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,’ adding, ‘The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programmes that are fully online for the fall semester nor will the US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.’
The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction. There’s an exception for universities using a hybrid model, such as a mix of online and in-person classes.