"These foreign students bring in many billions to our GDP as well as promote our public diplomacy", he tweeted.
The new regulation drew widespread backlash with many taking to social media to vent their anger.
President Donald Trump has insisted that schools and universities return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.
But Mitchell wrote that this latest guidance "takes the opposite tact", calling the move "horrifying". "We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year". Unfortunately, for some of the foreign students, these guidelines might as well come across as confusing instead of straightforward/explanatory. "It appears to be a Trumpian move to force universities to be in-person in the fall". But pandemic conditions mean these rules could suddenly impact numerous over a million (as of 2018) worldwide students estimated to fall under the affected categories, and who ICE could punish for violating the rules through no fault of their own.
He said the immigration authorities were "clearly creating an incentive for institutions to reopen, regardless of whether or not the circumstances of the pandemic warrant it".
Worldwide students enrolled in academic programmes at U.S. universities and colleges study on an F-1 visa and those enrolled in technical programmes at vocational or other recognised non-academic institutions, other than a language training programme come to the United States on an M-1 visa.
The president of Harvard University, Larry Bacow, said in a statement quoted by US media: "We are deeply concerned that the guidance issued today by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem, giving worldwide students, particularly those in online programmes, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools".
"We respectfully request that DHS extend and/or expand prior guidance to continue providing regulatory flexibility for global students enrolled at our institutions of higher education in the upcoming 2020- 21 academic year and participating in coursework through various alternatives either inside or outside the United States", stated the letter signed by ACE president, Ted Mitchell.
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Senator Bernie Sanders was also quick to attack the new guidelines. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, said the "cruelty of this White House knows no bounds". "We must stand up to Trump's bigotry".
This comes amid a series of measures taken by the U.S. administration, whereby critics have accused the country's president, Donald Trump, of implementing such steps in the garb of pandemic response that are allegedly aimed at realising the president's longstanding goal of limiting immigration to the United States. ICE will also require that foreign students attending institutions in the US operating on a "hybrid model" - i.e., both online classes and in-person sessions will be offered - certify to SEVP that they are attending at least some of their classes on their school's physical grounds.
So, what is a foreign student to do?
Huh Jae-yeon, 18, who won admission to the University of California, Berkeley, for this fall, is committed to staying in Korea for online classes.
Similarly, the worldwide education group NAFSA said schools must be allowed to make decisions for their own campuses.
"International students are so baked into the higher education, environment and model that exists in this country", Meissner said.
"Given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, our undergraduate students primarily or exclusively will be taking their courses online in the fall term", the school said in a statement.
Dozens of US colleges have announced plans to provide in-person classes this fall, but some have said it's too risky. "This is needlessly cruel and must be challenged in court", Julian Castro, a former Obama administration said, while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the administration of exploiting the pandemic "to target even more people, simply because they are immigrants".
Already, the Trump administration has suspended migrant visas or green cards for new immigrants.