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In-person classes or no visa: Punjab students feel dejected as US modifies rules for fall session

In its recent statement, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warned that students who don’t comply with the new rules could be removed from the country.

Updated: Jul 07, 2020 22:48 IST

By Navrajdeep Singh & Deepa Sharma Sood, Hindustan Times Patiala/Ludhiana/Chandigarh

Representational photo

As the US government has declared that it won’t allow the stay or entry of foreign students who fail to find schools teaching in-person, Indian students are in a state of panic. Majority of them have deferred their plans of studying in the US this year.

In its recent statement, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warned that students who don’t comply with the new rules could be removed from the country.

Students said though in-person teaching has better impact than online classes, finding colleges offering such modules in the time of Covid-19 pandemic would be nearly impossible.

Reacting to the decision, a student from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology said the US authorities had earlier targeted work visas and now their moves were posing threats to students’ immigration. “It is unfair to threaten students to leave the country and declining visas over such hard conditions,” said Guarang Sharma, fourth year electrical engineering student. He has been preparing for his GRE exam to pursue higher studies in the US.



Students pay exorbitant fee for international exposure in these colleges, thus only online classes won’t help them, he argued.

Another student Amitesh, who is in the final year of BTech in computer sciences, said posing restrictions on student immigration is uncalled for.

“Covid-19 outbreak has already dampened the aspirations of students hoping to get admissions in foreign colleges this year. There should not be any more restrictions on visas on based on the mode of classes being conducted in colleges,” he said.

Disappointed to defer his education plans, Shaurya Gulati, a BTech final year student of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College (GNDEC), Ludhiana, said, “To pursue my master’s degree in mechanical engineering, I had applied at the University of Michigan, USA in January this year and was so excited to be there for classes by September. But now the US government has decided they will not issue visas to students whose colleges are offering fully online courses.”

Stating that decision would impact the dreams of thousands of students who were presently studying in America, Manpreet Singh said any international student in the US or entering the country for Fall-2020 must be enrolled in nine credits to get a legal stay here. “Most of the universities here are currently offering online classes and only fewer have in-person courses. As there are two more months before the session begins, students must enroll into the courses being offered in the offline mode,” said Singh, who is a PhD research scholar in mechanical engineering department of University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA.

Another final year student of GNDEC Sidak Singh said, “I was planning to study in the US this year, but I have to drop the idea now. I feel dejected, but I have decided to come up with new innovations in machinery in India itself.”

MOVE WON’T AFFECT PUNJAB MUCH: EXPERTS

Meanwhile, immigration experts from the region believe that the US move will have less impact in Punjab.

A Chandigarh-based immigration consultant said, “The extent of the decision’s impact will not be more in Punjab region as students here prefer Canada and Australia for studies and work rather than the US.”

“Though a handful of students seek higher education in renowned US universities, they will now explore options in other countries,” opined Anuj Kalra, an immigration expert from Chandigarh.

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