NEW DELHI :
Tens of thousands of Indian students face the possibility of coming back to India or getting deported as the US has unveiled new visa rules for foreign students which discourages international students to stay back to continue their ongoing education via online mode due to Covid-19 disruptions.
India and China comprise a lion share of foreign students in the US. While US is home to some 202,000 Indian students, there are almost 369,000 Chinese students pursuing education in the US institutions, according to US government data.
Though there is no official data available immediately on the number of students’ who have come back from the US in last few months, it is estimated that between 40%-50% of Indian students may have retuned earlier this year to avoid the spreading covid-19 infections.
“This is insensitive and may change the optics. It will create confusion and uncertainty for Indian students, who are still there. I believe some 40-50% of India students must have returned in last few months due to corona infections, and a majority of those left will come back or face immigration issues," Sunit Singh Kocher, a veteran study abroad consultant in Delhi.
“Indian students, I believe will come back as there is no point of spending thousands of dollars and learning online by staying in the US," Kocher said.
“I am grateful for the limitless research opportunities that I have received in USA. But working with a constant fear of “any day could be my last day of research" is stressful, to say the least. The uncertainty sometimes makes me question if it’s really worth it," Shreya Ghosh, a PhD candidate at University of Pittsburgh said a tweet post.
US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency in a release has said that students whose classes have moved online for the fall semester will not get visa and students who wish to continue in the US may shift to schools offering ace-to-face mode of learning.
“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. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States," US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency has said.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online," the agency said, a copy of which was issued by the US embassy in New Delhi Tuesday.
As schools try to figure out how to start the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic, some — including Harvard University and the University of Southern California — are opting for online-only instruction. And that means their foreign students will have to leave or transfer, according to new rules issued Monday by the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, as per a 7 July Bloomberg report.
“Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load. Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave," the US immigration agency has said further.