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New ICE mandate could impact local universities

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Universities across the nation are still trying to figure out just how many international students they’ll have on their campuses this fall—if and when school finally resumes.

This is because Monday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency said those students will not have their VISAs if they don’t attend in-person classes.

At Marshall University, international students will make up about 2% of the total student body this fall. However, university officials want to reassure them that Marshall will do all it can to ensure they can still pursue their degrees in the United States.

In a time when all plans seem to be in flux, Lesli Burdette, associate director of admissions for International Student Services at Marshall University, says nothing is set in stone.

“The situation continues to change day-by-day,” she said.

The new edict handed down by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could throw the fall semester into further confusion for international students.

Tammy Johnson, dean of admissions and enrollment services at Marshall University, is concerned about her students.

“You’re always concerned anytime there’s news or there’s guidance that potentially can confuse or upset students, so we want to do everything we can to reassure them that we’re gonna help them continue and complete their degrees in any way that we can,” she said.

ICE says non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online will not be allowed to remain in the United States to continue their education.

Additionally, new VISAs will not be issued to students attending schools which are fully online.

The agency is also making the schools responsible for certifying their international students are not violating any of those conditions, and are here attending in-person classes.

An average of 6,000 international students attends universities and colleges in the state each year.

Johnson says the students at Marshall should not be impacted.

“For our students here at Marshall, the impact will be hopefully little to none for them.  For fall classes we plan to offer the array of classes that Marshall always offers, a mix of in-person and online hybrid classes,” she said.

There remains the question of whether the new rules will even be implemented. Neither Harvard nor the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are offering in-person classes this fall—and Wednesday sued the administration to dispute the rules.

Still, locally, university officials believe it will not be an issue.

“At this point, I do not foresee this being a huge change for how we were going to go forward with the fall semester. Again, the university is planning to offer those hybrid and face-to-face courses,” Burdette said.

It’s important to note that many of the students potentially affected by ICE’s ruling are in graduate and post-graduate programs at the state’s schools—and if they’re prevented from coming back, their tuition money will likely go elsewhere.

In 2018, between 30 and 40% of a university or college’s revenue came from those international students.

To find out more about ICE’s actual mandate, click here.

To contact Marshall University about your status as an international student, email: iss@marshall.edu.

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