Taiwan students fear deportation from US amid online class ban

Taiwanese comprise 7th-largest number of students at American universities

(Ingimage photo)

(Ingimage photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese students, who comprise the seventh-largest group of international students in the US, could soon be forced to leave the country after a Trump administration ban on fully online instruction was imposed.

On Monday evening (July 6), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that degree-seeking international students at American universities could be forced to leave the country or face deportation if their colleges move to entirely online courses. The move could affect up to 1 million foreign students, including over 20,000 Taiwanese.

In a press release issued on Monday, ICE stated that students with nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 visas attending U.S. universities "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States." It stated that students actively enrolled in such programs "must depart the country or take other measures," such as transferring to schools with face-to-face classes, or "face immigration consequences."

Based on data from the Institute of International Education (IIE), there were 1,095,299 international students in the U.S. during the 2018/19 academic year. According to the IIE's 2019 Open Doors Report, the largest group of students came from China, numbering 369,548, or 33.7 percent of the total.

India came in second, with South Korea, Saudia Arabia, Canada, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and Brazil rounding out the top nine. In the 2018/19 academic year, a total of 23,369 Taiwanese citizens were studying at U.S. universities, an increase of 4.1 percent over the previous year.

One way to avoid the deportation mentioned in the ICE announcement is to transfer to a school that provides "in-person instruction to remain in lawful status." The agency also stated that students who attend schools that have adopted a hybrid model would also be exempt if the school can certify the program is not entirely online and that the student is taking the "minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program."

The move by Trump appears to be part of his efforts to step up anti-immigration measures before the November presidential election. The policy is also in line with his aim to keep schools fully open, which he is using as a campaign issue.