In a surprising move, the US Government (SEVP) has announced that student visa holders in the USA from other countries will have to return to their home countries if their courses are going fully online during the new semester in Fall 2020. (Source)
According to the order,
The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.
Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.
If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.SEVP
What does this mean to Indian students in the USA? Let’s find out.
In this article...
Should Indian Students in USA Return to India?
Yes. Students in those universities whose classes have gone fully online should return back to India.
This is unfortunate as many universities and colleges are moving to online classes during the time of pandemic.
How can you maintain your F1 student visa status in USA?
You can maintain your student visa status in USA if your university requires you to attend at least one physical class in the semester.
When should you return to India if your university is switching to online classes?
Soon. There is no date mentioned yet in the order.
What about new students enrolling in fall semester?
Apparently, US will not be issuing new F-1 visas to students who are set to start a new semester in Fall 2020, which will be completely online.
Will you get refund for your university fees?
This is entirely the decision of your university and yet to be seen how universities handle this situation.
Can I switch universities at this time?
Yes, one way to keep your visa valid is to switch to another university that offers physical or hybrid classes (physical + online). But at this moment, admission to most universities for the fall semester are closed for most colleges.
This puts all Indian students in USA on a tough spot.
At this point, it is not clear if there are any colleges or universities that offer hybrid education (online + physical classes). Students at these universities may have a chance to stay in USA.
But even if they wanted to move back to India, they have to wait until international travel is resumed.
Even if universities open up to hybrid education, most have closed admissions for fall semester 2020.
So, if you’re a student in USA, it’s probably a good idea to be prepared for an exit and continue your online classes from India.
Don’t panic. We have you covered. Join our group if you have questions on how to move back to India.
Source – NY Times