KATHMANDU: Nepali students in the United States may be forced to come home as US bars foreign students from taking online lessons, according to new regulations released Monday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As per the new order, foreign students must leave the US if classes go fully online. A move that will affect thousands of foreign students amidst the unprecedented public health crisis in the world.
According to 2019-Open Doors Report on ‘International Educational Exchange’ released by the Institute of International Education and the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Nepal ranks 12th in both undergraduate and graduate students in the US, totalling to 13,229.
According to the Institute of International Education, more than one million of the country’s higher education students are international students.
According to the new rules, the US Department of State will not issue visas to the students that are enrolled in the institutions that have already announced plans to operate fully online for the fall semester, nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programmes 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,” the ICE said.
The rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 non-immigrant visas, which allow non-immigrant students to pursue academic and vocational coursework, respectively.
As per reports, only nine percent of colleges in the US are planning to go fully online, while 60 percent want students to return to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Around 24 percent of colleges are reportedly looking at a combination of both online and in-person classes.
Schools adopting a hybrid model must certify to SEVP through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status,” certifying that the programme is not entirely online, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree programme.
The United States is currently the world’s worst hit country due to the coronavirus pandemic.