First-Year International Students Will Not Be Permitted To Enter the U.S. if Their University Went Remote

Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed similar guidance for students already in the country. It will still apply to new students.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month issued and revoked a rule that would have forced international students to leave the country if they were attending a university that went fully remote as a response to COVID-19. Largely lost in the discussion post-revocation is that first-year international students will still be forbidden from studying in the United States if their schools have pivoted to online instruction.

The Trump administration's change of course "does not apply to our newly admitted international students who require F-1 sponsorship," wrote Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana in an email to students. "At present, any incoming student who received a Form I-20 to begin their studies this fall will be unable to enter the U.S. in F-1 status as course instruction is fully remote."

"We abhor any policies that seek to force us to choose between our community's health and the education of our international students," he continued, adding that while the school is working to ensure that first-year international students receive the same treatment as others, he does not "anticipate any change to the policy in time for the fall semester."

The policy does indeed pit coronavirus-related safety measures against immigration rules for no apparent reason. As I wrote last month about the original ICE order:

The White House directive came absent any economic or security justification for giving foreign students the boot, though some have speculated it was part of an effort to pressure colleges to reopen. President Donald Trump, as well as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, have strongly advocated for school openings across the U.S. Others wondered if the directive was more of a strategic political maneuver, designed to appease a restrictionist base and bolster Trump's reelection chances.

Harvard is by no means the only university left scrambling to concoct a plan for international students who will now have to find a way to keep up with instruction from several thousand miles away. The federal government's actions are creating needless challenges for those in different time zones and for those who lack the necessary resources to effectively participate in remote education.

NEXT: The FDA Has Been Way Too Slow on At-Home COVID-19 Testing

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  1. This should be a no-brainer

    As I have posted before, my daughter is a foreign student in Grenada, and can’t get back in there until they go in-person. It seemed logical to us

    1. You’re fooling yourself if you think this is motivated by a genuine concern for these students. If they cared about the students then the policy makers would leave the decision to travel or not up to the students.

      1. Hell why should they be treated differently than Americans traveling inside the US? Fuck all this stupid bullshit about COVID. Go back to normal life and admit all this government posturing is complete placebo and even more worthless.

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      2. I am also pretty sure several European countries have banned US citizens from traveling to their countries as well, I am sure some of those are students. This is not only Trump but every leader has their heads up their asses. Australia just banned travel between neighboring territories.

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      3. You’re fooling yourself if you think this is motivated by a genuine concern for these students citizens. If they cared about the students citizens, then the policy makers would leave the decision to travel wear masks or not up to the students citizens.

      4. Huh, you are arguing what’s the way we can give these people the most control over their own lives, which seems quite libertarian.

        The responses are all “other countries” are doing it, too! Which is a defense of what was done, not a discussion of what the most libertarian solution is. What is the motivation to defend what was done — my guess is because it was done by the Trump administration.

        There’s also diversion to the separate topic of masks.

        1. Before soldiermedic replies, acknowledging that you said, “This is not only Trump but every leader has their heads up their asses.” Not a defense of Trump, but a criticism of all leaders doing this.

      5. You’re fooling yourself if you think this is motivated by a genuine concern for these students.

        It isn’t motivated by concern for the students. It’s motivated by a concern over consistent application of the law. Either COVID is so dangerous that we need to lock down and can’t travel or it isn’t.

        Progressives apparently want to lock down everybody except for foreign students at Harvard and BLM protesters.

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  2. A very sensible adjustment of the policy. It no longer forces international students to leave the US, if they are already here. But there’s no point whatsoever in letting new foreign students in the US when there are no in-person classes and the entire student “experience” is centered around avoiding the spread of the virus.

    1. It’s OK, but a better policy would be to allow them in with a COVID-19 test and a quarantine period to make sure they are not bringing the virus in. Then let them go on their way to pursue happiness and all that liberty stuff.

      1. If foreign students want to come to the US “to pursue happiness and all that liberty stuff”, they need to apply for a green card, not an F-1 or J-1 visa. In fact, coming to the US on a student visa with the intention of staying here is immigration fraud.

  3. Learning online has become commonplace for me. All spring we studied online Our teachers opened their YouTube channels and posted videos

    1. I was a chemistry major. Chemistry, engineering, physics, nursing, botany, and zoology all require laboratory classes. If you deal with real physical shit, instead of playing with theories, you need to be in an actual physical class. Those fine with online classes will be communication, psychology, economics, sociology, history, and English majors. They don’t deal with real things much.
      If you doubt this, then I expect you are OK with a doctor or nurse who attended virtually.

      1. Yeah, but these are first year students–sure, in a normal setting they could take stuff they might like such as biology or chemistry, but for the most part they’d be taking something they couldn’t give two shits about like sociology, algebra, or English 101. The first two semesters are largely spent filling out prereqs before you get to start taking shit you actually care about.

        Not being allowed to attend in-person isn’t going to hurt first-years one bit. In fact, I think this is a positive as it will show how much of a scam the modern college experience is, by forcing you to take classes you have no interest in at all just to check off a box.

        1. This is flippant and reductionist. Each person’s situation and reasons for wanting to be located in the country is their business. We should try to be respectful of their personal liberty and pursuit of happiness.

          If the public interest is to prevent people from bringing the disease into the country, that can be satisfied with some testing and a quarantine period.

          Although, does it matter? The horse is out of the barn at this point.

        2. No. Just no. Most of the lab classes are in your first two years, when you need to learn the basics.

        3. “The first two semesters are largely spent filling out prereqs before you get to start taking shit you actually care about.”

          At the engineering university I went to in the late 70’s, the first two semesters were designed to be extra hard to winnow out the incoming class, around 40% of whom were expected to drop out. Straight into calculus and chemistry. Who takes algebra in college? That’s a high school subject.

      2. Well, they do deal with other people. Those subjects suffer from lack of social interaction.

    2. Are you learning online from a time zone that is totally out of sync with your day?

  4. Online learning for me will not replace live communication with the teacher. But there are advantages. Using youtube mp3 converter I save video lessons and watch it over and over again. And I don’t need to keep lecture notes.

    1. I wish all the resource of the Internet had been available when I was in college. Too many time I was stuck with some professor’s not very good book and a grad student with a thick accent giving the lectures.

  5. Thank heavens. Now those foreign STEM students won’t come here and get degrees in White Guilt Studies and vote for communists and steal Murican Jerbs. We really dodged a bullet there.

    1. It’s in certain people’s best interest to keep intelligent people out of this country.

      1. Exactly.

      2. It’s been made very clear to us that there are no intelligent Americans, so intelligent people must be imported.

        1. You are wrong. There are a lot of smart people in America.

          1. Don’t get me killed, new guy.

      3. Yeah, look at the high quality of progressively ran public education band tell me who benefits the most from keeping people stupid? Also did you see lawmakers in Chicago have introduced a bill to have history no longer taught in schools? Yeah some one definitely wants to keep people stupid, I agree, but I think who we think is most guilty probably differs considerably.

        1. I am confused as to your point. Are you arguing these students are better of studying in their home countries, because the quality of higher education in the US is not high, or are you attacking the very concept of higher education? Also, an anecdote about some dumb bill some fucktard introduced proves nothing. No, when it comes to anti-intellectualism, one side is definitely worse. All the smart and eloquent conservatives are rapidly disappearing, sadly. This is Trump’s true legacy.

          1. or are you attacking the very concept of higher education?

            Between better sources of education, a massive dumbing down of universities, and the takeover of universities by radical leftists, higher education has become pretty much useless.

      4. Because the scions of Chinese and Indian billionaires are the most intelligent and earned their placements solely on merit.

    2. You think students with the resources to fly half way around the world and pay full freight for a US college degree somehow cannot afford an internet connection to attend class?

      If there is no in-person instruction then there is no lab work being done or other class reason for them to be in the US while completing their US college coursework. With the various lock-downs of the campus housing & cities in general there isn’t much of a social scene to benefit from either. So please explain how they’re missing out.

      Now if they lose their status once in-person classes begin again then there is a problem, but for now this is not much different from having your international vacation cancelled and they won’t refund your deposit.

      1. They’re missing out on getting a foot in the door towards immigration, I guess.

        1. If that’s the argument for allowing first year students to come to America regardless of remote-learning structure, then make that case. The article doesn’t make that case. It just drops the idea that it’s wrong to deny first-year foreign students the opportunity to study remotely from the next county vs. the next international border.

          Oh, and YOU KNOW WHO ELSE…

          1. “The way things are right now, the only ones that are not able to come into Canada are the freshmen, and that makes no sense to anyone,” said Anna Marti, a resident of New York whose daughter was expecting to launch her post-secondary career in September at McGill University in Montreal.

            “They’re the ones that are going to get their study permits after March 18.”

            Maybe you should write a letter to President Tru…

            deau… shit.

          2. The default should be maximum personal liberty. If the public interest is to keep people from bringing the virus into the country (kinda late for that), then quarantine them and then let them get on with their lives.

            1. The default should be maximum personal liberty.

              Student visas are restricted, temporary forms of admission. They don’t permit students to work and they don’t permit them to stay. Some student visas require students to leave the US for several years afterwards. Students who come to the US on such visas and intend to stay are committing immigration fraud.

              If you don’t like these visas or these conditions, get the law changed. But you don’t get to use a crisis to undermine the immigration laws that Americans have lawfully enacted.

      2. If we’re worried about students not having internet connections for online learning, why don’t we give a fuck about American students who don’t have internet connections to go to virtual high school classes?

      3. No amount of money can make time zones go away.

    3. It’s cute how your entire information base isn’t based on facts but based on the assumptions needed to get to your preferred policy.

  6. “The policy does indeed pit coronavirus-related safety measures against immigration rules for no apparent reason.”

    When Binion tells you that Trump did something for no reason, the reasons are probably obvious.

    Here are two:

    1) President Trump wants to discourage universities from catering to Chinese students because of the escalating cold war with China.

    2) There’s an election in three months, and President Trump thinks that favoring the children of American voters over non-American non-voters will play well for him in the upcoming election.

    Right about now, I suspect there are thousands of American citizens who were on the waiting list at various schools and suddenly find that they’ve been bumped up the list and accepted.

    1. Not to mention that if the university is going remote, the international student can attend American schools from their home country. Well, assuming it’s a nation that has internet anyway.

      Not really in favor or against this in particular, just noting the obvious.

      1. Exactly.

        We don’t need to condone someone’s behavior to understand it.

        Serial killers have reasons why they go around murdering women. Maybe their mothers molested them when they were children or something. That doesn’t excuse or justify their murderous behavior–but they do have their reasons.

        Why pretend otherwise unless we’re being intellectually dishonest or unless we’re not smart or principled enough to condemn being a serial killer despite the reasons they perpetrate their crimes?

        1. And it hardly is unique. Canada has a similar policy. Italy has totally banned American travellers, hell Australia won’t even let their own citizens leave their resident territory. Every leader is overreacting. Trump is not uniquely totalitarian on this. it’s all hyperbolic authoritarianism (rather than turtles) all the way down.

          1. This.

            I really believe it would be more productive to argue that the pandemic reaction is overwrought across the globe, than to print another snipe about how Trump is a Unique Danger to American Democracy because Immigration Restrictions.

            1. The only good ones so far have been Sweden and to a lesser extent the Netherlands. Fuck, it’s pretty sad when nominal Monarchies are less totalitarian than most Republics.

            2. Why claim that there are no reasons?

              He must really believe it, right?

              I linked a story yesterday about how the virus has spiked again in Europe, mostly because of college aged people congregating on beaches and in bars. Brandybuck linked to something later in the day, and it seemed that the same demographic may be responsible for the spike in Australia for the same reasons.

              That might be a reason not to bring that demographic to cities across America from all over the world–so why pretend there are no reasons, unless you’ve really so far gone down the TDS rabbit hole that you really believe there are no reasons?

              1. I didn’t claim there were no reasons. Yes, William Binion said “no reasons” but I’m ignoring that. I’m just trying to decide (by weighing facts and evidence– and arguments and narratives as well) whether or not the first-year foreign student restriction is prudent or not.

                1. That’s my point–about Binion and the others like him.

                  Why would they say there is no reason, when there are obviously reasons?

                  He must genuinely believe that there isn’t a reason–despite the fact that there obviously are reasons.

                  I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not being willfully dishonest by assuming they must be willfully blind.

              2. OK, he should have written, “no apparent good reasons”.

              3. The argument is they shouldn’t be allowed in because they might go on spring break. Seems like this would not solve the problem of too many young people congregating together on beaches and such.

              4. What about we disallow any foreign students that act to bro-ish or have bodies that are too beach-worthy?

            3. Why so defensive of criticizing Trump? We are all libertarians here, presumably.

              1. You are definitely not. You’re a sophist with no real ideology except Trump is bad and Reason must never be talked ill of.

          2. You just basically agreed with the article that there is no “apparent reason” to this.

          3. Trump is not uniquely totalitarian on this. it’s all hyperbolic authoritarianism (rather than turtles) all the way down.

            Trump isn’t “totalitarian” on this at all. The law is clear: no student visas for online instruction. Trump is simply enforcing the law. If Congress wants to change the law, they can do that any time they like.

    2. Ok, he should have written “apparent good reason” instead of “apparent reason”.

  7. “The policy does indeed pit coronavirus-related safety measures against immigration rules for no apparent reason.”

    Knowing these pieces of shit, I bet they’re doing it because the policy harms the international students and the universites in some way.

    1. Hurting the universities is always a good idea, honestly.

      1. You don’t have to tell me I know all about your kind.

        1. I don’t care what you think you know. Anything that wastes money from me like universities should cease to be.

        2. Kirkland’s protege steps forward…

      2. Hurting the universities is always a good idea, honestly.

        Please tell us again about how Trumpists are not outright anti-intellectual.

        1. Yes, the disdain for universities is “anti intellectualism”, not their open embrace of anti intellectualism.

    2. So Trudeau’s very similar policy is equally evil intended?

      1. How about the Mayor of DC who let’s politicians travel without quarantining but forces everyone else to (except protestors).

      2. That’s different because reasons.

  8. >>The policy does indeed pit coronavirus-related safety measures against immigration rules for no apparent reason

    if a bunch of soccer moms are going to change the world for a cold virus i’m not going to weep for college freshman who can goto class on their phones instead. everyone gets fucked or nobody does.

    or we can all go back to whatever the fuck we were doing. easy decisions could be made.

    1. The narrative that President Trump does crazy things for no reason is central to the TDS mind.

      The fact is that every effect has a cause, and if you can’t find any reason for what someone is doing, it’s probably because you don’t want to see it.

      Everybody else familiar with the “unmoved mover” argument for the existence of God?

      “As is implicit in the name, the unmoved mover moves other things, but is not itself moved by any prior action.”

      President Trump isn’t God no matter what Binion says.

      Because some people are too willfully blind to see the reasons people do things doesn’t mean there aren’t any reasons. It just means they’re being willfully blind. And willful blindness is the essence of TDS.

      Charlie Manson, Osama bin-Laden, and Hugo Chavez all had reasons for the things they did. People who aren’t objective enough to see the reasons can’t really criticize them effectively. If you can’t be objective about Trump, you can’t criticize him effectively either. How can you be objective enough to push a persuasive opinion but so willfully blind that you can’t see the reasons for what they did?

      1. >>Because some people are too willfully blind to see the reasons people do things doesn’t mean there aren’t any reasons.

        this. mind boggling. “oh, let’s all shelter-in-place forever and cover our faces it’ll be great we can make tik toks and be #alonetogether in these uncertain times of the new normal. Cuomo knows what’s best.”

      2. Not for no reason. The common TDS belief is that he does whatever he does out of a mixture of his selfish interest, narcissism/low self-esteem, ignorance and stupidity, vindictiveness and bitterness, and just like a dice throw granting him level 15 chaotic nature.

  9. That is a damn shame. But since universities make more money from international students, their incentives are different from mine. I want US students educated and productive. I do not care if another countries students are. That is their problem.

    For all the complaints about foreign influence in this administration, it appears the democrats are far more influenced by foreign interests, money and desires. Good luck if Biden wins. It may be all over and nonrecoverable. Once undone it will not be fixed for good.

    1. It isn’t exactly brain drain, it’s kinda the opposite, but when did we lose sight of having more smart people as part of one’s country as being a positive thing.

      1. I like how you started ranting in this thread late at night and most likely drunk since your arguments are basically based out of emotion and not reason.

  10. Harvard is by no means the only university left scrambling to concoct a plan for international students who will now have to find a way to keep up with instruction from several thousand miles away.

    I don’t understand this. How are you disadvantaged by taking a *remote class online* from across the globe compared to across the city – or across the state?

    1. You don’t get access to the TA’s after lectures? Do local students? If so, why? Isn’t the point of going online to prevent human interaction?

    2. You can’t group up with your classmates to study together? I would think the success of teleconferencing and with the current success of telework in general would refute that.

    So, yes, its bullshit that 1st year students can’t come here to study but later year students can. But that’s just my *feelings* about the issue. And fuck feelings.

    Like a court, I want to hear about substantive harm these students will suffer from taking courses at an online university that students at any of the online universities that have existed for the past 20 years somehow managed to not suffer.

    Nobody taking courses with the University of Maryland has ever so much as set foot in the state of Maryland.

    1. Perhaps they should bitch about the expense. They’re aren’t getting discounts for dramatically toned down offerings.

    2. We’re juggling two narratives here.

      1. The Libertarian moment is finally upon us with the ability for everyone to do everything in virtual cyber space.

      2. Making everyone do something in virtual cyber space is oppressive.

      My nephew is attending an in-state college entirely remotely because of Coronavirus. I simply haven’t heard a cogent case as to why first-year foreign students are uniquely aggrieved by attending classes remotely from “another time zone” as opposed to attending them remotely from within the same time zone, or perhaps still a different time zone, but only 1 or 2 time zones away.

      Now, we could, for instance, make the case that the coronavirus panic is just that, and therefore blocking ANYONE from entering the country based on coronavirus fears is irrational. If that’s the debate we’re having then let’s have that debate.

      1. Yeah, how many of those Harvard students who don’t live on the east coast are actually going to travel to Cambridge and how many are also going to be getting instructions from thousands of miles away?

    3. Have you ever worked with people remotely that are in a time zone half a world away?

      1. I have. You make adjustments, and magically, it works. If you agree with lockdowns and “sheltering in place” but disagree with this, the hypocrisy is on your end. It’s pretty simple.

  11. O/T – 2700 TONS of confiscated ammonium nitrate exploded in the Port of Beirut. Good bet that the entire port facility has been destroyed.

    Footage of the blast

    1. hizbollah hardest hit.

    2. I posted a video in the previous thread that was from a closer viewpoint. You know pretty much 100% of the people in that shockwave perimeter have no eardrums.

      1. Shockwave itself probably killed a lot of people.

        1. Oh hells yea. I’m not even talking about the body count yet. I’m just talking about some dude chilling in an office nine blocks away who’s staggering around, bleeding from the ears.

      2. Times of Israel has coverage, and more video/photo. The port is gone, and I’d bet a good chunk of the city.

        1. Ballpark 200 tons TNT equivalent. Per the armscontrolwonk people. I guessed 50 when I saw pictures of the blast. Tientjin was a lot bigger. Still devastating for Beirut and its port.

          1. 2750 tons with a relative equivalence of 0.42 is 1100 Tons of TNT. Get a bigger ballpark.

  12. So it’s too risky to go to the park, the gym, to work, go shopping, or heaven forbid go to church but importing thousands of students from halfway around the globe isn’t a health risk Billy can understand. Seems legit as far as Billy’s understanding of the world goes.

    Lift the damn lockdowns, go to limited in-person classes and tell people to keep with the soft preventatives of social distancing & mask use and there is no reason for this restriction. But if I can’t go outside without heavy restrictions for fear of killing grandma then why would we import people in a pandemic when their goals can be met largely online?

    1. We have to get our narrative straight. Either we argue that this pandemic response is entirely overwrought, or we continue with proportional restrictions.

      1. We have to get our narrative straight.

        Do we really? True believers can hold two contradictory opinions at the same time.

      2. Maybe that’s the point of this? To highlight the absurdity of the restrictions.

        It’s too dangerous for American children to go to school, so they have to learn online.

        It’s too dangerous for American college students to attend in person classes, so they have to take online classes

        It’s too dangerous for American children to participate in organized sports, so we have to cancel everything.

        It’s too dangerous for American citizens to have a funeral for their own family members.

        It’s too dangerous for American citizens to do normal things and live normal lives, so we need to stay locked down

        But we have to let foreign students in to study, when their home countries are still closed to Americans, because we’re concerned about the harm it might cause them.

      3. A reasonable restriction would be to test and quarantine the students entering the country. Problem solved. Their liberty respected.

  13. How complicated is this? The law actually says that education visas are exclusively given for the purpose of education. If you don’t need to be in the country to get the education, then there’s no educational purpose for the visa.

    And Presidents actually have a Constitutional duty to see that the law is faithfully executed!

    It’s not the end of the waiver that’s legally dubious, it’s the waiver itself. Let this be a lesson to all future administrations: When emergencies come up, don’t make reasonable, temporary accommodations, because you won’t be permitted to end them. Just continue enforcing the law as is regardless, THAT is legally rock solid.

    1. Oh crap! Great ending.


    This court opinion about qualified immunity reads like a libertarian blog post.

    1. Is that… real? If so, that’s kind of awesome.

    2. Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks!

  15. The early numbers I’ve seen are that roughly 70-80% of foreign students will not show up this year – and by spring semester they will find different schools in different countries.

    1. This will have serious brain-drain consequences for the US. What a shame.

      1. “Brain drain” refers to US universities siphoning the best and brightest students from other countries; when the US stops doing that, it isn’t “brain drain”, it is ending brain drain.

        Now, as a libertarian, I don’t have a problem per se with smart people leaving shithole countries to emigrate to nice countries that will have them. However, in the case of the US, this brain drain is heavily subsidized by US tax payers, and it primarily serves the narrow interests of universities and a few high tech companies.

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  17. I don’t see why people try to read complex motivations into something that is pretty simple: student visas are restricted to in-person instruction. That’s the law and Trump is enforcing the law.

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