Visa nightmare

 
July 10, 2020

The US government has announced that international students taking classes fully online for the fall semester would have to transfer to an institution with in-person classes or leave the country....

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The US government has announced that international students taking classes fully online for the fall semester would have to transfer to an institution with in-person classes or leave the country. This policy change will affect hundreds of thousands of international students in the US immediately as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many educational institutions to suspend in-person classes for the rest of the year. If fully enforced, this policy will result in the deportation of unsuspecting students who had come to the US to pursue their educational goals, and now are being punished for something that is beyond their control. A majority of such students are in the US on F-1 or M-1 visas enabling them to enroll and study anywhere in America. If they are forced to go back to their countries across the continents, for them remote learning could mean attending classes in the middle of the night.

In many cases they will have to deal with patching internet access or no connection at all. This policy may also result in the loss of funding for students to continue their education in the United States. Some students are also working as research or teaching assistants and they will now be unable to participate in such activities and the upshot will be a cancelation of such assistantships for them. Any such policy that results in more difficulties for students anywhere in the world must be resisted. If students end up leaving their education programmes for whatever reasons, humanity loses a potential citizen who could be an artist, a community worker, a doctor, an engineer, or any other responsible professional. The Trump administration must take this announcement back before this policy starts taking its toll in terms of lost careers and even lives.

As many developing countries, and even the developed ones, are beset by a deep economic crisis – and in some cases also political strife – people are already living off their savings. A majority of students are likely to come home to a struggling family that will hardly be able to withstand the pressure of their wards discontinuing their education just because of this senseless policy of the Trump administration. Even in America, most foreign students don’t find a level playing field due to their different backgrounds. This policy will have serious implications for their personal and professional future. Young people are already at a loss to navigate through this unexpected crisis not seen in over a century. They need support rather than bullying in this manner. This is a time when governments the world over should try to give more options to students, and here we have a Trump administration that is bent upon reducing the wriggle room for those who are already in a tight bind.



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