Thousands of Indian students are likely to be affected after the US government announced that foreigners will not be allowed to stay in the country if the universities, they are studying in, switch to online classes only.

Indian students who are enrolled in colleges and universities, which are offering entirely online classes for the fall semester will have to return home. Similarly, foreign students enrolled in the universities which are only offering online courses this fall will not be allowed to enter the US.

According to the US Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, India sent more than 202,000 students to the US in 2018-19 for various levels including undergraduate, graduate, non-degree, and research.

“I am doing computer engineering which requires working in the lab and be in touch with the faculty. But due to the pandemic, I turned my flat into a lab and visit my professor when I require some consultation. Otherwise, everything is online. I am in touch with the University and hope they will consider our situation.” said Vamshi Krishna, pursuing Masters at the University of Southern California.

However, the decision is not going to affect those students who are enrolled in Hybrid courses –a mix of online and offline classes.

”This is not going to impact a large number of students in the US, Most of the colleges and universities have not announced online classes for the fall semester. Most of them are still sticking to the offline or Hybrid courses.” said Janetha R Kancharla, an immigration lawyer based in the US.

According to the new rules, the students who are in F1 status have to do only one class or three credit hours online.

“Earlier immigrant students used to take 4 credit hours.  It was allowing them to focus on applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which should be done 90 days before finishing the university,” said Saumik Tiwari who graduated this year from Trinity College, Hartford.

Optional Training Programme is the period in which F1 students, after completing their degree, are allowed to work in the US for a year.

“I just graduated from college. I got OPT but I am not sure about my future,”  said Soumik.

The decision is going to impact mostly graduate students who are looking for OPT.

“I am a Ph.D. scholar and it might not affect us. My research project is based in the US, which might be taken into consideration,” said Maneesha Pradip, a research scholar from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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