Visa rule still clouds US-study dream of new international students

RITU JHA

The pandemic followed by frequent visa rule changes announced by the Trump administration has created anxiety among students. And the administration seemingly going back on the ‘no staying in US if classes move online’ move has not also cleared the clouds of uncertainty for new students.

Nonimmigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the US to enroll in a US school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online, according to the rule.

One such student is Harry Singh, a BTech student from Chandigarh, who had a dream of doing his masters from United States.

Singh,, a first time F-1 visa holder, spoke to indica News at 3am India time.

I cannot sleep,” he said. Asked what keeps him awake so late, he said he keeps checking US news.

It’s like an everyday thing… I have to look up the news, scared if the government has made any other changes to the rules, “ Singh said.

Harry Singh wants to do his masters in the US, but his university has not made its plans clear

Singh, who completed his BTech from Punjab Technical University, was issued an F-1 visa in March this year. He paid the $350 SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee. He also paid around $300 as advance to book a room at the university before the lockdown happened.

He was supposed to join California Lutheran University in May. And then the pandemic struck.

Now my university says it is yet to announce its fall term plan for incoming international students. So if they go for online-only study structure in fall, I will have to defer my program again from fall to the winter term,” said Singh, who has enrolled in MS in Information Technology.

He said there were many like him. “It’s been a hard time for students like me who already were through with their process.”

I really wish that the US government pays attention to international students because international students have to go through a lot.”

Harvard University dean Rakesh Khurana announced in an email to students last Wednesday that the university’s first-year international students will not be allowed to come to campus this year.

The University of Southern California has also informed its new students to take their courses from their respective countries.

Over the last month or so the policies of the Trump administration have definitely created more anxiety among the Indian students both in the US and India,” Rachit Agrawal, co-founder & director of AdmitKard, told indica News:

AdmitKard is an India-based venture capital-funded edtech startup founded in 2016 by IIT-IIM alumni Piyush Bhartiya & Rachit, with an aim to mentor students seeking to study abroad.

It was good to see the decision asking students to leave if their entire semester has moved online taken back. For new students, as per our understanding, if all the courses are online then students would not be allowed to travel.”

Indian students haven’t welcomed the move, Agrawal said.

They are looking for more holistic experience than just studying from home. Yes, we have encountered multiple instances of students aiming for the US not planning to go to Canada, Ireland, UK etc,” he said. “We hope things will change as soon the presidential elections are done. Hope students don’t suffer much in this entire move.”

Also see

Student visa rule bad for US, universities, world: Vivek Wadhwa

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