BYU clarifies ICE guidance for international students

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BYU international students were unsure if they’d be able to come back to Provo after ICE released guidelines for Fall Semester. ICE and BYU have since released clarifications for international students. (Hannah Miner)

The higher education community and international students have been riding a rollercoaster of news the past few weeks as the federal government has made and rescinded different policies affecting international students.

BYU International Student and Scholar Services clarified the various rules Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have recently released in an email sent to BYU international students on July 27.

The email stated that the guidance ICE gave on March 9 — which waived a rule that usually bars international students from taking more than three credit hours online — is still in effect.

Students who were newly admitted for Fall Semester; however, will not be allowed to take 100% online classes, although they are able to more than three credit hours online. New international students “must take at least one class in either the ‘Classroom‘ or ‘Blended‘ categorization” and are “protected after Thanksgiving once the university goes completely online,” according to the email.

If new students are unable to enter the U.S., they are allowed to complete Fall Semester completely online from their home countries. They would need to take at least one class to keep their status as a BYU student but will defer their start date on their I-20 forms, a multi-use document that allows international students to enter the U.S. Students who defer will not need to repay a $350 SEVIS fee that is required of international students by ICE.

The email also addressed health and travel concerns international students may have. In response to an FAQ about whether students would need to quarantine for 14 days after entering the U.S. in the fall, the office acknowledged the Centers for Disease Control recommends quarantine after traveling to restricted areas listed by the CDC and encouraged students to be safe and protect themselves and others.

“However, we have not heard of any mandate from either the government or BYU regarding quarantine upon entering the U.S.,” the email states.

The office also recommended that immunocompromised international students “take courses online as you can and that you reach out to any teachers for in-person or hybrid courses you may have and discuss ways to keep you safe and protected.”

The office also stated it is still waiting for guidance on how ICE’s rules will affect Optional Practice Training, a federal temporary employment authorization that allows international students to stay in the U.S. an extra year after graduation to work.

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