ORLANDO, Fla. — Mehul Patel, a UCF senior studying Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, said he was concerned about the new temporary guidelines Immigration and Customs Enforcement published on Monday.

What You Need To Know

  • International students in US can't take online-only course load

  • Guidelines come amid shift to online learning due to COVID-19

  • UCF will offer in-person & online classes this fall

The guidelines state international students who attend a program that’s fully online, or their course load is fully online, must transfer or face deportation.

Only qualified F-1 students, academic students, can take a maximum of one course or three credit hours online.

It’s a turn of face from what the agency said in April where it allowed international students to attend and take online courses as schools made the switch because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have to get deported? That’s the first thing I thought,” Patel said. “I have to get kicked out?”

UCF will be binary, offering both in-person and online courses during the fall semester. But Patel said the courses he needs to graduate aren’t in person yet.

“If I drop one of those online classes for a class that puts me in eligibility, then that could delay my graduation,” Patel said.

He said on Thursday he spoke with UCF Global officials, and they said they would work with him and his professors to try to figure out a plan to help him meet the guidelines. He also said UCF Global plans to bring in immigration lawyers to speak with international students.

The situation to attend in-person courses draws other concerns for international students like Patel.

“You want me to get COVID or you want me to get deported?” Patel said. “What do you want me to choose? And for us we’re definitely going to choose COVID, which is sad. We’re willing to risk a disease than going back home.”

He said he is also worried what will happen after he graduates after the Trump administration made temporary changes to the work visa program.