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International Students' Visas Could Be Revoked Thanks To ICE's New Rules

Pomona College Campus Center, as seen on Oct. 17, 2008. (WLC Architects Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons)
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new guidelines for international students on Monday: students must take at least some of their classes in person. If they don't, they risk having their visas revoked.

It's a tough set of circumstances, considering many schools are returning to online-only courses this fall, including many Southern California universities. International students at these schools will have to give up their U.S. residence and live abroad if they want to enroll or remain enrolled, unless the college offers at least some in-person classes.

Pomona College international student advisor Carolina De la Rosa Bustamante spoke with A Martinez of KPCC's Take Two:

"This is really causing a lot of, I think, stress and anxiety among students — also among universities. ... Students that are coming here for legitimate reasons, to pursue higher education and to get better lives because of these degrees, then they're being put in this situation. And also, for both the universities and the students, having to risk their health if they feel concerned about having to be on campus."

Bustamante said she and her colleagues had been expecting new federal guidance, but they had hoped it would extend what was previously in place: allowing international students to retain their status while enrolling in online courses, especially if they're already in the country.
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Pomona College has about 200 international students, Bustamante said. Pomona is part of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, which has about 1,100 international students total.

"I can only speculate, but from my point the reason is really motivated by a challenge of not being able to closely track international students the way ICE normally does," Bustamante said. "We were surprised and really disappointed."

Pomona is still figuring out its plans and how to support its international students going forward, Bustamante said. Fall semester is scheduled to start Aug. 24.

USC, which has more than 12,000 international students, is also grappling with the new ICE guidelines. In a tweet, the university cited the "uncertainty and stress" for international students and said it is "working diligently" to address the concerns.

ICE informed colleges of the changes, but a more formal rule is still forthcoming. Bustamante expects things to continue to change based on circumstances as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.


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