The United States on Monday, 6 July, said that it would not allow foreign students to remain in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the autumn season because of the coronavirus crisis.
Those affected by this move would be nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agency said, adding that they should depart the country or take a transfer to a school having in-person instruction.
Breaking down the latest visa ban, imposed by the US government on foreign students, Canada-based journalist Shibani Gokhale said that not adhering to the rules may lead to deportation, or even a likely ban from reentry into the US.
Till now, foreign students pursuing their spring and summer courses online have been allowed to stay in the US.
Students, therefore, have only two options – one is to leave US and return to their home country and the other is to transfer to a university that offers hybrid courses.
“The only way F-1 visa holders can stay in the US and continue their studies is if their university starts offering hybrid method of teaching, which is a mix of both online and in-person classes,” said Gokhale, explaining the new rules.
However, she added that, such students must get the university to certify that they are holding hybrid classes for the course that the particular student is enrolled in and also provide proof for the same.
New Rules Pose Several Complications For International Students
Gokhale also explained why the latest ICE rules can pose several complications for international students. For example:
- The order has not clarified whether students who are not getting their visas right now are eligible for a deferral for Spring or Fall 2021
- It has also not clarified whether those students who are required to go back home right now, can come back and complete their courses in-person in Spring 2021
- Further, it has not clarified how this will affect students who have Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they are set to graduate soon
- They have not clarified whether these students can come back and look for jobs in the US in 2021
She also pointed out that taking classes from the home country can be challenging for students due to the time difference, and lack of resources such as software or even internet, in some cases.
The move comes after the US had announced a ban on the issuance of all H-1B visas, among other type of work visas, till the end of the year, amid the growing unemployment crisis in the country due to the coronavirus lockdown.
As per a proclamation signed by Trump, the ban had come into effect starting 24 June and applies to a number of work visas.
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