WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department has issued new rules for foreign students studying in the country.
Accordingly, students might have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities moved classes entirely online in the upcoming fall semester.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
This, in effect, means Indians currently enrolled in schools or programmes that are entirely online for the fall semester will have to come back to country.
They can stay back only if they take alternative steps such as a move to a school that offers “in person instruction.”
Students attending schools offering “normal in person classes” can stay,
But they cannot take more than “single class or 3 credit hours online”.
Students, who had come back to India after the pandemic forced American campuses to shut down, will not be permitted to enter the US if their classes are entirely online.
The same applies to prospective (or new) students who were going to join in the fall semester.
Indian students enrolled in universities that have announced a cross-breed blend,
Such students remain in the United States, and those who returned to India will be allowed to re-enter the USA.
They will even be allowed to take more than single class or 3 credit hours online.
However, this relaxation only applies to students enrolled for full-time academic courses and not for vocational or language courses.
Thus F-1 visa students in English language training programmes or NI-1 visa students (vocational coursework) are not exempted.
The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the US as a full-time student at an accredited college, university.
On an F-1 visa, you are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during regular full time quarters or semesters.
DOES THIS MEAN ONLINE STUDENTS HAVE TO SUSPEND THEIR COURSE MIDWAY?
No, those who will have to leave the US can continue the course online from their home countries.
WHAT HAPPENS IF STUDENTS FAIL TO TRANSFER OR RETURN TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES?
In this case, students will be deported back to their home countries.
They may also face future bans on entry into the US.
WHY HAS THE US GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED THESE CHANGES?
International students in the United States are required to do most of their learning through contact classes.
Due to pandemic and the subsequent campus shutdowns, government provided temporary exemptions for international students to take more online classes.
However, these exemptions were made only for the spring and summer semesters.
Some are seeing this as a pressure tactic to get universities to reopen for the fall semester.
HOW IT IMPACTS INDIAN STUDENTS?
Indians form the second largest chunk of foreign students in the US (18% of all foreign students), after China.
In fact, only Indian students have shown an increase in enrollment of nearly 1.7% between 2017 and 2018
HOW UNIVERSITIES HAVE REACTED TO THIS?
While certain institutes such as Harvard Business School reacted immediately, by opting for hybrid classes instead of the earlier planned online courses,
Others like Colombia University are working to find a way around this order.
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