As more places are put into quarantine in the United States because of the Coronavirus COVID-19, universities are scrambling as they attempt to have solid plans in place for the more than one million international students who attend American universities.
In the last two weeks universities and colleges all over the country have begun the very complicated process of shutting their physical doors and shifting to online learning, with many colleges making their students move suddenly out of campus housing.
For students without homes in the United States, these sudden college closures have become even more complicated, as they are left to hastily decide whether to try and stay in the United States with an uncertain educational future, or fly home, many of which to countries that have been heavily affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19.
International students in the United States number over one million, with about one-third of those students being from China. In the 2018-2019 academic year, international students contributed nearly $41 billion to the U.S. economy, and universities have begun to rely on international students as integral parts of their student bodies.
Online Learning Allowed for F-1 Visa Students
As most universities shift to an online learning format for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, international students were left in limbo as F-1 student visa holders are usually only allowed to take one three-credit online class per semester under F-1 visa restrictions.
Thankfully, on March 13, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced new guidance allowing international students to shift to the online education model caused by the Coronavirus, regardless of their student visa restrictions. These allowances are for the duration of the emergency response set in place by the Coronavirus quarantining, and will not remain in place once regular, physical classes have resumed at universities.
If you are an international student in the United States, we encourage you to stay in constant contact with the international student officer at your university to be notified of the latest announcements during this transitional period.