Unexpected changes in the rules for obtaining foreign student visas by the US administration have destroyed the ambitions of more than a million foreign students, primarily from China and India, who are now studying at various US educational institutions.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) said Monday it would block visas for international students whose entire courses have gone online are dying of COVID-19, and experts called the move “xenophobic” and part of Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Service Directive is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of students, particularly from India, China and other Asian countries, who will have to either leave the United States or be evicted.
Universities in the United States were forced to postpone online classes in mid-March after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States has suffered the most from the pandemic with more than three million confirmed cases.
Two leading US universities – Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – recently sued to overturn an order from the Trump administration. “We will vigorously pursue this so that our international students – and international students in institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Harvard President Lawrence S. Beck said in a statement.
“We believe that the ICE order is a bad government policy and we believe it is illegal,” he added.
Some other leading universities, including Princeton, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and Cornell, have announced their support for the lawsuit by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brown University issued a statement calling the new immigration order “nothing short of harsh” and “a direct threat to public health.”
The US government justified the new orders. “You don’t get a visa to attend online classes, say, from the University of Phoenix, so why do you if you normally attend online classes?” This was stated during a briefing by White House spokeswoman Kaylee McEnanney.
But critics have criticized Donald Trump’s new student visa rules. “The brutality of this White House knows no bounds. International students face the choice of risking their lives by attending classes in person or being deported, ”said Senator Bernie Sanders. “We have to resist Trump’s bigotry. We need to protect all our students. ”
Criticism of the student visa restriction is seen as an attempt by the Trump administration to force American institutions to resume classes and business. “It’s to help universities and colleges support this story that the Trump administration is trying to sell, that’s all right.”