LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Immigration debates, coronavirus outbreaks in the United States and their home countries, travel restrictions, it all adds up to a nightmare for many foreign students. Now the problem may be about to get worse, their education decisions may be taken out of their hands.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Service says new visas won’t be issued to students at Universities offering online classes only. That applies even if courses begin the semester in-person or a mixture of in-person and online and then are forced online only by a coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement that international students may have to leave the United States is still a bit of a shock for many students and universities. According to the University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communication office, “We are still reviewing the announcement, which just occurred, to determine any potential impacts.”
UK currently has 767 International students enrolled, Melissa Molho is a PhD student currently studying viruses she says, “Cause of everything that is happening we have the risk of being deported because it doesn’t matter anyway if you come here legally and have your documents.”
Many international students stayed in Kentucky this summer due to the coronavirus and travel ban. For now the majority of the students will not be affected according to Molho, “so far we are going to have a hybrid system so we are not affected, but we need to tell them what we’re going to do and we need to have a new I20 form to protect our immigration status in the country.”
But the uncertainty is more than unsettling because she acknowledges we live by what the virus does. “We are scared because we don’t know what’s coming next. Even from my personal experience I’m grateful to the University of Kentucky for everything that they are doing. I know that they can control just certain things. They don’t have access to everything.”
Molhol understands how important her education is for the future, but she wants people to remember something else, “we international students are international students but we are also people. We are also the children of someone; we are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, parents so all these new announcements are coming on top of everything else that will affect our daily lives.
Harvard and MIT have filed lawsuits to challenge the government’s new regulations.