Written by Paola Sacerdote
“I really thought I had to go back home,” said communications major and international student Cinthia.
International students at Brooklyn College expressed relief after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated on July 24, that nonimmigrant students “who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on Mar. 9 and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the U.S. or abroad” will be able to remain in the U.S.
“The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will not issue a temporary final rule impacting nonimmigrant students for the fall school term,”
The announcement came ten days after ICE revoked its earlier policy which would have told international students they had to either go home or transfer if their college went online for the Fall. The government agreed to return to previous COVID-19 guidance that allows students taking online courses to remain in the United States on F-1 visas “for the duration of the emergency.”
“Students that want to study at Brooklyn College can still apply,” said Director of Graduate Admissions and International Student and Scholar Services (ISS) Keisha Wilson. “Being that we are now online, students can actually apply, get accepted, and start their program of study from their home country. Once embassies reopen and we are back on campus, they can apply for an F-1 visa and enter the US to continue their education.”
This protection will not apply to first-year students.
“If initial students have not arrived in the United States, they should remain in their home country,” ICE.gov notes.
The admissions department remains hopeful that the pandemic will be controlled for the spring 2021 and new international students will be permitted to study in the U.S.
“I still can’t believe that last year the world was open and now after the virus we are told to go back home, said a student who wished to remain anonymous.
Graduate admissions and ISS have reached out to incoming students to let them know how the March 2020 guidance affects their education for the fall.
In accordance with CUNY policies and guidelines, Brooklyn College for fall semester modality will be distance learning. Almost all courses will be delivered in a remote format. A small number of mostly hybrid courses must be occasionally conducted face-to-face as they are based on experiential learning or require equipment that cannot be obtained in a distant environment.
“Students that are in the country must register full time and take their courses,” said Keisha Wilson. “Nothing is preventing them from remaining in the country.”
International students attending schools who switch to online-only learning this fall will not have to either transfer schools, leave the country or possibly be deported. Now, international students who “were actively enrolled” in Brooklyn College or any other university in the U.S. on Mar. 9 will not be affected by ICE’s critical decision.
“When I first received the news that international students had to leave the country I was worried that I wouldn’t attend class fall semester,” said Cinthia. “It was the two most frustrating weeks for me, but now it is a great relief knowing I can continue my degree in Brooklyn College.”