Donald Trump administration has said that foreign students who have opted to study a combination of in-person and online courses in the US will be eligible for visas. The clarification came following a new rule that appeared to be asking them to leave the country.
The US immigration authority said in a press statement on Monday that foreign students will have to leave the country if their colleges shift to online teaching for the fall 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clarifying on this student visa curb, the State Department issued a statement on Tuesday titled "International students are welcome in the US".
The department said in the clarification that the "the United States has long been the destination of choice for international students, and we are pleased that many international students who had planned to study this fall in the United States may still have the opportunity to do so."
It further explained that the interim changes to the F-1 and M-1 visas for students "will allow a mixture of both in-person and some online coursework to meet the requirements for non-migrant student status."
International students enrolled in academic programmes at US universities and colleges study on an F-1 visa and those enrolled in technical programmes at vocational or other recognised non-academic institutions, other than a language training programme, come to the US on an M-1 visa.
The statement affirmed that "this temporary accommodation provides greater flexibility for non-immigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America."
Meanwhile, the department cautioned that the students who will qualify for the visas will "still be subject to other visa processing or travel restrictions due to COVID-19".
The immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) policy announced on Monday (referring to the September to December semester) that 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 US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.