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International Students and Trump: What the latest actions by USCIS mean for you.

Arturo is an international student from Chile. He has been studying Chemistry at the University for two years under a nonimmigrant F-1 Student Visa. Arturo has been watching the news and checking Facebook for news about ICE and whether he will be able to keep studying. Maybe you are in the same place as Arturo or know someone who is. here is what you need to know.

The Facts

On July 6th, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications to the temporary exemptions that affected international students, like Arturo, studying here in the United States on an F-1 Visa. Those temporary modifications were based on the urgency of closing schools and thereby temporarily forcing schools to switch to online classes for their students during the Coronavirus pandemic. These temporary exemptions made it possible for international students to stay "in status" while attending online classes.

By removing the temporary exemptions regarding online classes, the SEVP is telling schools that things should be returning back to normal regarding classes even if social distancing and mask-wearing is part of the in-person school experience. This change is a return to past practices and rules regarding F-1 Visa students and the requirement for in-person classes in their course work. It is not the political action of an alleged anti-immigrant Trump administration. The link below dated during the Obama administration mentions the original rules regarding online classes.

This isn't about Politics

When you take away the political rhetoric and the emotions regarding fairness, you can see the original intent of the rules. The F-1 Student Visa is not a license to immigrate to the United States. The F-1 allows Arturo an opportunity to receive a quality education as well as to see what sets this country apart from many others.

Online courses don't require residing in the United States. This is why the student visa only allows one course per semester to be an online course. To stay "in status", Arturo must be taking the required number of courses, in person. If Arturo's university isn't providing in-person classes for him, he only has two good choices if he wants to continue his education here in the U.S.: Change to another University offering in person classes or go back to Chile and apply again for the next semester when classes are taught in school.

It's a difficult position for Arturo to be in, but it isn't the end of the world. This pandemic is temporary, and so is the change in plans. It is a far better choice than to stay in the U.S. "out of status" illegally and risk getting banned from returning for a while.

Do you need help?

If Arturo's situation is similar to yours and you need assistance with immigration forms, translation of vital records documents into English, an interpreter (Brazilian Portuguese) for USCIS interviews or the services of a Notary Public; Sonia Cunha-Goldner of SCG Law and Language is ready to help you.

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