On Monday (July 7), the United States announced a new immigration policy stating that foreign students will not to be allowed to stay in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the announcement, more than 8,000 Pakistani students in the US went into a state of panic. Muqtader Khan, a Masters student at a varsity in Ohio, however, said that the policy’s hybrid clause could prove to be helpful for students.
“The clause states that if a student takes even one in-person class with their university or some other college, they will be able to stay in the country,” he said on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Wednesday.
Khan said that when the policy was first announced, panic ensued among Pakistani students there. “But after contacting the university and going through the policy in detail we found out about this clause,” he said.
“Even those universities that did not have an option of in-person courses previously are now revamping their policies according to the pandemic and the new decision,” he added.
According to AFP, a number of schools are looking at a hybrid model of in-person and online instruction but some, including Harvard University, have said all classes will be conducted online.
While students in the US can now breathe a sigh of relief, those who had come back to Pakistan on vacation have found themselves in hot water.
According to Zarak, another student who is presently in Pakistan, he will not be able to go back to the US for the upcoming semester as all of his courses are online.
“Even if I try taking an in-person course now I can’t because then I will cross my credit limit,” he said, adding that he was in his last semester and if he’s unable to get any in-person course he will never be able to go back as his visa will expire.
Even taking online classes is a difficult option because of the huge time difference between the countries, Zarak said.
While it may seem to be a plausible solution to study online while being in your own country, it’s a huge loss for students when it comes to exposure, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs.
Khan agreed, saying that the teaching methods, practical exposure, laboratories and most importantly the job opportunities abroad are unmatched.
On the global front, US President Donald Trump’s new policy has been immensely criticised. There were more than one million international students in the United States for the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.
The largest number of international students came from China, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, who works as the policy counsel at the Washington-based think tank American Immigration Council, the new rule is “almost certainly going to be challenged in court.”