US immigration authorities have now announced a new policy under which freshly enrolled foreign students taking a complete online course will be denied entry in the country.
This rule came after days Trump withdrew its controversial rule to expel the international students if their university is providing a completely online course only. However, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made clear that guidance granting visa flexibility to nonimmigrant students only applies to those who were actively enrolled at American schools on March 9.
Related to earlier issued guidelines
The designated Dean of Students Office or DSOs should not issue a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” for a student in new or Initial status who is outside of the United States and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution fully online,” said the revised guidelines, which was initially issued on March 9.
“As a result, new or initial nonimmigrant students who intend to pursue a full course of study that will be conducted completely online will likely not be able to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa to study in the United States,” said the guidelines issued jointly by SEVP ( Students and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security ) and ICE.
Measures for Covid -19
Due to COVID -19, which has prompted social distancing measures severely affected thousands of foreign students. This announcement primarily affects new foreign students hoping to enroll at universities that will provide classes entirely online as a result of the pandemic.
The immigration officials repealed the earlier policy on July 14 after it was challenged by eight federal lawsuits from various states and universities. More than 200 schools had signed affidavits supporting an action brought by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Major number of colleges decide to hold classes entirely or primary online this fall. As virus cases continue to rise, schools including the University of California, Berkeley, and Rutgers University have also announced the move this week.
Several education groups issued letters to ICE this week requesting to permit all international students, including new ones, to enter the country even if their schools were operating entirely online. The letter said, many colleges had already prepared housing for international students, even at universities offering online instruction only.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of college leaders, said, “We are disappointed by ICE’s decision on new students. It places undue pressure on schools to offer at least some in-person instruction,” the group said.
The number of international students impacted by the latest order could not be immediately ascertained. There were nearly 270,000 new foreign students enrolled in graduate, undergraduate and non-degree courses for the academic session starting 2019 fall, according to Open Doors, a standard resource on international students. According to the American Council on Education, which represents US colleges and universities, the US provides admission to an estimated one million foreign students annually and they generate around $41 billion worth of economic activity and support 450,000 jobs. Incomes generated from foreign students are critical to the financial well-being of many US colleges.
According to the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme, 194,556 Indian students were enrolled at various academic institutions in the US in January. India is the second-largest source of foreign students.
At least, for now, many international students have put their U S plans on hold .This is due to the given scepticism on account of the Covid-19 and Trump administration’s implicit disapproval of international students on US campuses.
By Rashmi Sharma