Impact of the new I.C.E legislation on Indian students

Impact of the new I.C.E legislation on Indian students
The government of the United States recently announced that international students might have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities moved classes entirely online in the upcoming fall semester. Students attending in-person classes may stay back, but they cannot take more than one class or three credit hours online. This move was unprecedented to any student or university, and so we are here to answer some of the questions that may clear your doubts about the current situation.

How does this move affect Indian students?

There are many students who come to the US from overseas to pursue higher education. According to the Institute of International Education, At least 1 million of higher education students in the US come from overseas. Out of these one million students, the second largest group of international students, after the Chinese, is that of Indians. This means that a lot of Indian students currently studying in the US will have to return to India. They can stay back only if they choose to move to a school which offers in-person classes or if they have the appropriate medical reasons to not leave the US. Indian students, who returned home on account of their universities shutting in-person classes, will not be able to reenter the U.S. if their classes are entirely online. These , however, can continue to attend online classes from home.

What about Indian students enrolled in universities that have announced a blend of in-person and online (HYBRID) classes for the fall semester?

Students studying in universities that have announced a hybrid blend of in-person and online classes will be allowed to stay back in the US or enter the US. These students will also be allowed to take more than one class online but not an entire load. This may only happen if the university certifies to the US government that the student will not be taking an entirely online course for the fall 2020 semester.

How will this affect those on Optional Practical Training?

Those people on OPT will not be affected as they are authorized to work in the US. As long as you have an OPT job, the I.C.E decision should not have any impact on you.
Protests by International Students against ICE

Will students taking online classes in the fall have to apply for a visa again?

If a student takes classes outside the US in fall 2020, he/she may have to apply for a new I20 Visa to come back to the US.

Does this apply to people pursuing a PHD?

This does apply to Phd students if they are on an F1 Visa. Although there is not much clarity about how Phd students will carry out their research (whether it will be online or on college premises), we can hope to get more information about this once the government releases a more detailed outline of this move

How will this affect universities in the US?

This move only adds on to the existing uncertainty and fear caused by the COVID pandemic, which had prompted half of the students applying overseas to defer or delay their entry into foreign universities until next year. This means that the number of students studying in the US will significantly decrease and so will the revenues of US universities subsequently fall.
ICE legislation and international students

How have universities responded to this change?

This move is especially puzzling as foreign students have a lot of value in the US, both to the economy and to the growth of these universities. Harvard University, although shifting its academic year online, is planning to bring 40% of undergraduates (including all freshmen) onto campus. Harvard president Larry Bacow says that there is a need to ensure that all students continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country midway through the year, which would disrupt their academic progress and undermine their commitments. Students may have also made certain sacrifices to study in these universities and we understand that this unprecedented move may cause them distress and confusion.

What do we recommend?

Although the US is the land of opportunities and has an exceptional education system, the best thing to do in this situation is to consider applying to universities in places like Europe, Canada, Australia and the UK. This does not mean that one should retract their applications or completely dismiss the option of studying in a US university, as there are still universities and organisations who are protesting against this move and lobbying for this new policy measure to be rescinded. Students only need to expand their available options considering that the situation in the US seems very uncertain and a potential source of stress and anxiety for students. Obtaining a Visa in the US was already a very difficult task for students, and with these new guidelines it becomes an even more difficult and tedious process. So, students must try their best to not completely rely on the possibility of studying in a university in the US, and instead explore and expand their available options to ensure a more secure future for themselves.

Meanwhile students can also sign petitions and help to raise their voice against the new immigration policy. This petition to allow F-1 and M-1 students to remain in the US with online-classes has already reached 300,000 signatures. Here is the link to it:

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