As the whole world battles the coronavirus pandemic and grapples with the coming in of what has often been regarded as the ‘new normal’, a recent decision by the government of United States can bring about a series of difficulties and hardships for Indian students in the country.
On Monday, the United States announced that all international students may be asked to leave the country or be prepared to face the risk of being deported if their universities decided to take classes online in entirety in the upcoming fall semester. Students who were enrolled in schools that had been offering normal in person classes had the option of staying back in the United States but they are not allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours in the online mode.
This can have far reaching impacts for students from India who are enrolled in schools and programs in the United States and especially those who are being offered online courses by their institutions. According to the new guidelines by the government, such students will have to come back to India. They are allowed to continue staying in the United States only if they take alternative steps such as a move to school that offers in-person classes or contact classes or opt for an “appropriate medical leave.”
Many students who had come back to India after the pandemic took a severe turn globally will also not be allowed to return back to the United States of America if there classes are being held online in their entirety The same rule will also apply to the prospective and new students who would join universities and schools in the United States in the fall semester. It is now evident that students who are going to start online courses will not be given a US Visa till their contact classes resume.
But for Indian students who are enrolled in universities that have plans of resuming and conducting classes in a hybrid blend of online and in-person lectures in the fall semester, things will not be very difficult as they will be allowed to stay back and continue with their academics in the United States and if they had come back to India, they will be allowed to re-enter the US.
Such students are also allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours only. But this will require the university or college to certify to the government that, “The student is not taking an entirely online corse load for the fall 2020 semester and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes require to make normal progress in their degree programme.”
Keeping the pandemic and the changed global reality in mind, international students studying in the United States who are usually required to attend contact classes were given some relaxations.
The subsequent campus shut-downs forced the government to provide temporary exemption to students so that they can take more and more classes online. But these exemptions were taken only for the spring and summer semesters. But according to the new rules, these exemptions may have to be extended in the next semester for at least all international students.
With Indians being the second largest group of international students in the United States after China, this decision is surely going to change their academic lives in the US.