TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Foreign students taking fully online classes this fall aren’t allowed to remain in the United States, according to new guidelines from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"These are students that have done everything by the book, maintained their status, maintained their visas, who are now left in a limbo of uncertainty," said Immigration Attorney Jose Vazquez. "These are students who pay greater tuition rates generally than American students."
Vazquez said the new rule applies to F-1 or M-1 students studying on visas but shouldn't impact DACA recipients with Employment Authorization Documents.
"It's heartbreaking for these students because you're not in their situation and I'm not in their situation," said DACA Recipient Orlando Tadeo.
Tadeo said going to college in the United States has allowed him the chance to pursue his career as an airplane mechanic and eventually an airplane electrician.
"They are in a way getting punished for trying to study here," he said.
If a foreign student has all online classes, they must either leave the country, transfer to a school with in-person classes or potentially face deportation, according to the guidelines.
The University of Arizona is working to make sure every degree will have the option for a portion of classes to be in-person.
"We are probably in a better position than most universities to address this challenge so that's a small blessing," said Liesl Folks, the University of Arizona Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Folks said the U of A expects to have about 3,500 international students in the fall.
“It feels like an extra burden or extra hurdle for our students I’m sure,” Folks said. “But I’m trying to reassure them that I think we’ve got this.”