Confusion and anxiety prevailed among Indian students in the United States after Home Land Security Tuesday announced visa curbs on Indian students.
The Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools offering programs that are fully online for the fall semester, nor will Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the US, according to the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
Active students on F1 and M-1 (nonacademic or vocational studies) visa currently in the US enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction, to remain in lawful status, the announcement said.
If not, they may face immigration consequences or even removal proceedings, it added.
Many international students have left the country since the COVID-19 pandemic started and universities started offering classes online for the spring and summer semester.
However, a few who could not afford to go back stayed on.
“Most of them cannot afford the tickets for the special flights so they stayed back,” an Indian student in Northeastern University in Boston told indica News, requesting anonymity.
They were stunned by the announcement: “Seems like we have become victims in the tussle between the university and the administration.”
The student, who is from Mumbai, had classes for two months and for the past four months has been taking online classes.
They have to pay the full fees though the classes are online, the student pointed out.
“We started a petition for the university to reimburse some of the fees, but it went in vain. They said that the money would be used for teachers’ training because teachers are struggling to learn new techniques.”
The student said Northeastern plans to roll out hybrid learning classes for the fall, called NUflex.
“The university has sent an email about hybrid classes but students are scared of attending classes due to the pandemic,” said the student, who lives with seven others.
Parents and friends have been calling him since the news of the Homeland Security announcement broke, he said, adding, “students are in jeopardy”.