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Hurdles for F-1 and M-1 Visa Holders in USA

  • 08 Jul 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the USA has announced that F-1 and M-1 visa holders who are planning to take online only models will not be allowed to stay in the USA.

  • Many universities in the USA are planning to shift all their classes online for the fall semester due to Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Fall semester starts in late August and ends in late December or early January whereas the Spring semester begins in January and ends in early May.
  • F-1 visas are issued to study in the USA for full-time students whereas M-1 visas are issued to students engaging in vocational or non-academic studies.
  • The announcement comes weeks after the USA President suspended H1-B highly skilled worker visas through the end of the year. Most of these visas go to Indian citizens each year.

Key Points

  • Announcements Made:
    • The students outside the USA planning to take all courses online in the fall semester would not be permitted entry into the country.
      • The USA would not issue visas to students who are going to take all their classes online due to the pandemic.
    • It also stated that the active students under F-1 and M-1 visas in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.
      • The USA regulations do not allow students in F-1 status to be in online classes but normally F-1 students are allowed to take one class or three credit hours online.
  • Affected Population:
    • There were more than one million international students in the United States for the 2018-19 academic year. That accounted for 5.5% of the total USA’s higher education population.
      • Also, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the USA’s economy in 2018.
    • India is the second largest source of the foreign students in the USA after China.
      • The largest number of international students come from China, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
  • Consequences:
    • If alternative measures are not opted then these students may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
    • It is a difficult situation for students as international travel already faces disruption due to Covid-19.
  • Available Alternatives :
    • Affected students may switch to visitor status but it is not a long term solution as visitor status is short term and there is no guarantee that it will be approved.

Way Forward

  • Considering the unprecedented pandemic scenario, the USA can amend the regulation for F-1 and M-1 students.
  • The one-size-fits-all approach will create more havoc and complexities not only in USA administration but also in diplomatic relations with countries like India and China.

Source:TH

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