Campus, News

International students will not lose visa if University later goes online

Despite the most recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ruling that incoming first-year international students cannot obtain a visa if they are only taking remote classes, freshmen who do enter the country will not have to return home in the case that Boston University goes fully online later in the semester.

The International Students and Scholars Office at Boston University. International students taking in-person classes in the Fall will not be forced to leave the country if BU chooses to go fully online later in the semester. SOPHIE PARK/ DFP FILE

“If there is a need to pivot to fully online for public health reasons,” BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email, “international students will not be forced to leave the US or transfer.”

ICE had announced Friday that newly enrolled international students will not be allowed to enter the U.S. for fully remote classes, but students who were enrolled in classes at a U.S. school on March 9 will still be able to enter the country for remote classes.

For BU, this means all freshman international students will be eligible for a visa if they begin their semester with some in-person classes.

ICE’s previous guidance barring all international students from staying in the U.S. for fully remote classes was rescinded on July 14 after the agency faced a lawsuit led by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Boston University was among numerous other colleges who joined an amicus curiae brief in support of the lawsuit.

Riley wrote that the new rule “aligns well” with BU’s Learn from Anywhere model.

New international students who take hybrid classes on BU’s campus can obtain a visa, although those who learn remotely from the beginning cannot.

This policy also allows students to take more classes online than the University’s pre-pandemic policy, in which only one online class could be counted toward a student’s 12 credits of coursework required to keep their visa.

Students at other schools across the country may be more impacted by the new policy.

Harvard announced earlier this month that about 40 percent of its undergraduate population could return to campus. All Harvard undergraduates will take virtual classes, even if living on campus, which means first-year international students will not be invited to campus.

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