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International students who have been enrolled to pursue degrees in the US might have to leave the country as most universities are shifting to online courses. Many can also face deportation if they don’t wish to continue to agree with the change. The official announcement came on Monday from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding this. The decision can affect thousands of students who come to the US to study from various destinations. Many of them not only graduate from universities but also take part in training programs, which are non-academic as well.
How universities plan to operate now?
Universities all across the US have started bringing the transition in place in order to make online learning the new normal. The blame is entirely on the coronavirus pandemic and how it has impacted America.
Harvard has announced that all courses will be conducted online. It includes students who are currently living in the campus. However, international students will have to leave the campus.
What to expect in terms of university education in the US?
According to a new released by ICE on Monday recorded that students who fall under certain visas might not be allowed to take full online courses. They can remain in the US but the US Department of State is not going to issue visas for students who are enrolled in programs or schools which are functioning online. Moreover, the US Customs and Border Protection permits the students to enter and stay in the US as of now.
According to ICE suggestions, students who are enrolled in US right now should consider other measures. This can include school transfers with in-person instruction. There are exceptions of universities using the hybrid model. These are a mix of both in-person classes and online courses.
How students and authorities are reacting to the change?
Valeria Mendiola, a graduate student from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government said that the current situation is frustrating. She said that she has to go back to Mexico but she is worried about the fellow students who cannot return back home.
Visa requirements for international students have always been strict. Currently, the latest changes will make it impossible for students to come to the US to study.
Brad Farnsworth, who is the VP of American Council on Education revealed that he is surprised by the announcements like many other people. He said the move will create confusion and uncertainty. Further, he said that they were hoping for more appreciation and to bring out different possibilities across the campuses.
Farnsworth also said that he doesn’t what might happen if the public health keeps deteriorating through fall. It might make universities offering in-person classes to go completely online for safety measures.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy said that the universities that allow students in “are not some fly-by-night universities”. She said that these are legit education institution that offer in-person curricula but everything has changed for the pandemic. Further, she said that some of the countries now have travel restrictions, so what should the students do now?
Larry Bacow, the Harvard University President said that they’re concerned that the guidance issues by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement levied a blunt and one-size-fits-all approach. The issue is complicated and providing online classes for international students will make many transfer schools and leave country instead of following those programs.
Bocow said that the idea undermines a thoughtful approach that needs to be taken for the students. He said that Harvard, along with other institutions will find the best possible approach amidst the challenges of the pandemic.
How will the change impact international students?
Trump government has made several changes in dealing with international people due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is led to barring several immigrants to come to the US for work and studies.
In June, the White House issued immigration proclamation that curtailed legal immigration to the country. It made several people go back to their countries and businesses to scramble. The future is uncertain for many currently due to such drastic decisions.
The proclamation recorded that the “extraordinary circumstances” has compelled the government to cancel employment-based visas. However, immigrant advocates, experts, and industries are taking the benefits of the pandemic to sweep immigration changes and advance the agenda to slash legal immigration.
After the announcement on Monday, many foreign students who pay huge tuition fees might have to go back to their countries. As per the Migration Policy Institute, there are around 1.2 million foreign students who fall under the affected visa. They were enrolled in more than 8,700 schools across the country since March 2018.
According to Farnsworth, the move is one of the larger patterns of a bigger picture. However, this hasn’t been the right approach according to him. He said that this will lead to anxiety for international students and for the ones who wonder where they’re headed. Many might also immigrate to other countries for education.
Students do have an option to shift to colleges or courses that mandatorily need in-person learning. However, it can be tough amid continued concerns over COVID-19. Some schools plan to have shorter semesters and cancel all in-person classes throughout the semester.