CNN  — 

In two months, 19-year-old Tianyu Fang is due to start his first semester at one of the most prestigious schools in America: Stanford University in California. Now, the Chinese national isn’t sure if he’ll make it.

Fang is one of the million or so international students who could be made to leave the United States if their universities switch to online-only learning, under a rule announced by Washington on Monday. Those who don’t leave voluntarily face deportation.

Some universities have announced they will deliver all courses online due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 2.9 million people and killed more than 130,000 in the US alone. Other universities are still planning to run classes on campus, but with the US outbreak still not under control, there’s a risk that those institutions could go remote, too.

More than half of international students in the US come from Asia. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 370,000 students were from China, 202,000 from India, and 52,000 from South Korea.

For Fang, who has studied in the US since middle school but returned to Beijing earlier this year, Monday’s announcement exacerbates an already complicated situation. To get around the US ban on travelers who have been in China in the past two weeks, he planned to fly from China to Cambodia. After 14 days, he would hopefully fly to the US.

Now, things are even harder. Currently, Stanford plans to stagger which students are on campus each semester to maintain social distancing. First year students will be on campus in the fall and summer terms – meaning Fang will be studying remotely in one semester and will have to leave the US for that period.

Even that will be challenging. There are few flights between the US and China, where international arrivals have to quarantine for two weeks.

Now, Fang is weighing up whether he wants to pay about $60,000 a year to study remotely from China. If he does, he won’t have all the unplanned interactions and conversations that usually come with a school experience.

Tianyu Fang in Boston's Chinatown. Fang completed his high school in the Boston area.