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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Federal Rules Complicate International Student Attendance At ISU

ISU students on a sidewalk
Cindy Le
New rules from the federal government could complicate efforts by Illinois State University to grow the number of international students attending the school.

Illinois State University said Tuesday it is still assessing the impact of new rules issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that could prevent some international students from attending the school.

ICE guidance requires international students to take in-person classes during the fall 2020 semester to maintain lawful status in the U.S.

Students on F-1 visas cannot live in the U.S. if their college or university moves to solely online education. They would have to complete courses in their home country under the rules publicized Monday. ICE also said international students could transfer to a school that allows them to take in-person courses.

Students with that visa category can take some online courses, but colleges and universities must certify students are not taking all online courses in the fall term.

ISU has averaged 400-500 international students the past couple of years. The university has tried to grow the number of students from other countries by creating agreements with other universities and by bolstering independent recruitment efforts.

A university spokesperson said there are other issues under study as well, including the ability to travel to central Illinois from other countries. The spokesperson said ISU is communicating regularly with international students on a variety of issues.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolled nearly 11,000 international students last fall and has one of the highest percentage enrollment of international student in the country. A U of I spokesperson said officials there also are reviewing the ICE guidance and will contact impacted international students. 

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