Washington DC: Tightening noose, the US government has announced that foreign students will not be allowed to stay in the country if the universities, they are studying in, are conducting only online classes.

Students have to comply with the rules or face deportation.

The decision is going to impact Indian students given the difference in the standard time of the two countries. Plus the infrastructure required for the online classes will not be adequate.

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 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.

“The Indian students have the option to change the program or university which will at least provide the hybrid program, otherwise they have to depart from the US. The students who are doing the course in Harvard and Brown will be most impacted, as these universities have already started the online classes till next session,” Says Maruthi Prasad Reddy of Eagle Consultant.

The students who are on F-1 and M-1 visas will be hit hard by the new directive. “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The students must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said in a statement.

“Online classes don’t have the same impact as a real-time class. The intrinsic benefits of studying overseas especially life on campus, attending real classes, brainstorming and building friendships during project work will be lost. What would be missing will be the social and cultural intelligence they would have acquired if they remained in the US. Leaving the US to return to India would be stressful as they may not be allowed to re-enter on an F-1 if their classes are still online. Transferring to an in-person instruction may be an option but would involve extra costs, risk and stress,” said Xavier Augustin, Founder & CEO, Y-Axis Consultant.

The persons violating the rules may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

Along with Harvard University, many US universities have already announced that it will conduct only online classes from the new academic year.

On June 23, the US government suspended H-1B Visa along with other visas in a huge blow to Indian IT professionals who are eyeing for the US job market.

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