US Student F1 Visa Controversy: What Indian Students Can Do

On July 6, US announced that foreign students must take some of their classes in-person or risk deportation.

Indian students can take admissions or seek transfers to US colleges that have any proportion of in-person training, said Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner, LawQuest in an interview to BOOM.

This advice comes following the news about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE announcement that foreign students must take some of their classes in-person at their university or risk being deported to their home countries. India has the second-largest foreign students population in USA after China.

This will impact Indian students who are either in the US or those who have returned to India due to COVID. Also impacted by this announcement are the new batch of students that were planning to join fresh courses in August and students whose visas have been suspended.

Poorvi Chothani also said that while this announcement may have come as a surprise, it was always ICE's default position in the pre-COVID-19 world as well. "In their head, they're making a concession that they've allowed students who have a higher online load and an in-person class load to qualify for the F1 Visa or to continue to stay there," she added.

"All universities have been instructed to issue new form I-20, a critical document for an F1 Visa. Since most of our students are F1 Visa because they go for academic studies, they are at risk," she said, and added that new aspirants cannot get a visa unless they are able to prove the ratio of online classes and in-person training is in compliance with the requirements.

So What Can Students Do?

The way to get a visa is when universities update their information on the CBP portal to know what proportion of the course is online. For students who have only online courses, they can transfer credits to another college or university that offers in-person training also.

This is a hybrid model, which can help students get the visa. They can also think of getting a gap semester and coming to India. Another option Chothani says should be that if your University was giving you a semester abroad, then its best to take it right now in a location that is not affected by COVID-19.

One thing that Chothani says is not advisable is taking the risk of staying in the US even if students have only online classes. This is because deportation can blemish your record permanently and affect your travel to the entire world afterwards.

Another way of circumventing the new rules is to speak to the university if you are starting a new semester, then you can ask for a deferred admission at a later date, where you might lose money, but you will be able to attend classes at a later date.

Several immigration experts have already pointed out that the tightening of visa norms seems to be a political move. President Donald Trump is trying to tell his vote bank that he is putting a stop to the pipeline that will take away jobs, since many students opt for working in the US after their education is over, which then turns into an H1B visa.

Highlights
1) The announcement marks US going back to its preCOVID-19 stance on students requiring in-person training for an F1 visa.
2) Indian students in the US should seek admissions or take transfers in colleges which offer in-person teaching
3) If they do not get admissions, they should return to India, should not risk being marked for deportation.
4) The ideal situation from a COVID19 point of view might to take a gap semester, return to India and go back.

Catch the whole interview on YouTube or click on the link here.

Updated On: 2020-07-10T11:04:59+05:30
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