There is palpable fear among foreign students in the United States of America, USA over decision of the Trump administration to withdraw visas of foreign students whose courses move fully online as a result of Coronavirus.

Reports site US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), saying that students whose institutions’ courses are fully online could face deportation unless they changed to an institution with in-person tuition.

It is also reported that a number of US universities are considering online teaching in the new academic year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The matter is already at the stage of implementation as the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme, which is operated by ICE, has introduced a temporary exemption to allow students whose courses had moved online for the spring and summer semesters to remain in the US.

However, the exemption will not be extended into the new academic year, the report, monitored on BBC stated.

The news came on the same day that Harvard announced all course instruction would be delivered online in the new academic year, including for the limited number of students allowed to live on campus.

The president of Harvard University, Larry Bacow, said in a statement quoted by US media: “We are deeply concerned that the guidance issued today by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem, giving international students, particularly those in online programmes, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools.”

He added that the decision “undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programmes while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic”.

“Kicking international students out of the US during a global pandemic because their colleges are moving classes online for physical distancing hurts students,” said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. “It’s senseless, cruel, and xenophobic.”

Her comments were echoed by the former US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who said the decision made “no sense and [is] unworkable for most college students”.

The decision is being considered in many countries, especially the developing nations as a bad signal from the Trump administration’s intractable xenophobic stanc; and moving the doctrine of “America First” beyond the precinct of common reasoning.


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