International students in the US whose classes have been moved online in the fall semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, must leave the country.

Those who fail to abide by the ruling face removal procedures, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement yesterday.

"Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

"Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status," the ICE said.

"If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings."

F-1 students are those who pursue academic coursework, while M-1 are students who take up vocational coursework.

The pandemic has caused a number of US schools, including Harvard University, to fully conduct their lessons online.

According to the Insitute of International Education (IIE), there are more than a million foreign students in the US for the 2018-2019 academic year, which accounts to 5.5 percent of the total US higher education population.

Students from China will be the worst hit with the latest ruling by ICE, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

United States is the country worst hit by COVID-19. More than three million people have been infected by the virus in the country, and over 132,000 have died from it.

The global infection and death tally currently stands at 11.7 million and over 540,000, respectively.

Source: India Today, ICE statement
Photo source: Channel News Asia