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New Immigration Guidelines for International Students Attending Colleges and Universities in the United States

New Immigration Guidelines for International Students Attending Colleges and Universities in the United States

International students accepted to study at colleges in the United States must generally obtain visas prior to entering the country to study. These student visas fall into two categories – F visas and M visas – depending upon the type of study and school.

Additionally, and as reported this week in the Tampa Bay Times, under recent guidelines of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in order for international students admitted to United states colleges to remain in the United States for study in the fall of 2020, some in-person instruction is required. Under these guidelines, for international students to remain in the United States for study, their colleges or universities must not be planning to offer exclusively online courses. Other restrictions are imposed by the guidelines in consideration of future circumstances, including, for example, the possibility of a school’s plan changing from in-person to online only education during the course of the term (in which case the international student would be required to leave the country or transfer to a school that is providing classes in-person).

College and University Reopening Plans Across the Nation and in the State of Florida

International students made up over 5% of the total student enrollment in United States colleges in 2019, according to data provided by Additional reported statistics indicate that in 2018, total revenues associated with international students were estimated to over 45 billion dollars.

Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated plans for the fall 2020 semester for colleges and universities around the world. In the United States, the situation appears to be fluid, with some colleges and universities having recently released their plans for the fall, while others are still determining their reopening strategy.

As a recent report by Business Insider indicates, there are a variety of plans for colleges and universities reopening across the nation. Some schools will only offer remote learning, while others are planning to offer a combination of online and in-person classes. Some schools are planning to divide the term, starting with in-person coursework and completing the semester online. Still other schools have yet to reach a final decision about plans for the fall semester.

Within the state of Florida, the University of Florida’s plan anticipates offering some in-person, online, and hybrid form classes. The State University System of Florida enrolls over 30,000 international students, who come from more than 200 countries. The University of Tampa’s website indicates its intention to offer on-campus learning this fall, with changes in the classroom to allow for increased physical distancing, new audio visual technology, and some fully remote learning options. At the University of Tampa, students are enrolled from 132 countries around the world.

For international students across the nation, as well as those in Florida, the recent ICE guidelines obviously have the potential to significantly impact on educational plans and opportunities going forward. For more information, or if you are an international student seeking guidance on the recent ICE guidelines or other immigration matters, contact an immigration law specialist at Diaz Shafer, P.A.

At Diaz Shafer, P.A., we offer expert assistance with any legal matter involving immigration, including immigration services for individuals, businesses, military personnel, and deportation defense.  We are experienced, multi-lingual, and proven in the courtroom. To learn more, visit