The foreign students in the United States might have to depart the country in case all of their classes are moved online amid the coronavirus pandemic. US Immigration and Custom Enforcement stated: “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the statement read further.

The Immigration and Custom Enforcement added that if foreign students do not leave the country on their own, they may face immigration consequences, including “the initiation of removal proceedings”.

For the incoming students, the department said the US will not issue visas to them if the schools and/or programs they are enrolled to are online in nature. Most of the colleges and universities are yet to announce their plans for the coming semester.

F-1 visas are issued to students pursuing academic coursework, while students studying vocational coursework come to the US on M-1 visas. For the academic year 2018-19, more than one million students had enrolled in the US-based colleges and universities from across the globe.