A new visa policy in the US has put thousands of Vietnamese students at risk of deportation leaving their academic and professional dreams in tatters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that international students on certain visas have to leave the country if their universities only offer online courses in the upcoming autumn semester.
The sudden decision has caused great uncertainty and anxiety for many of the almost 30,000 Vietnamese students in the country.
Nguyen Mai Anh is studying for her master’s in international relations at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and she said that her school had already announced that classes would be entirely online in the autumn.
“Personally I’m very worried because my university said that they will just run online classes in the fall and not have any in-person classes,” she said, adding that she thought the ICE decision was “totally unfair and illogical”.
Nguyen Phuong Dung, who studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio and left the US in spring to return to her home in Hanoi as Covid-19 began to spread, said the move has put international students’ health at risk.
Her school has announced plans for a hybrid of in-person and online classes in the fall.
“According to the policy, we international students must fly back to the US (risking our health) and take in-person classes in order to retain an active status on our visa.”
Dung noted that even if international students wanted to leave the US, many of their home countries have banned entry from the US as the virus continues to spread within its borders, while other countries like Vietnam have suspended virtually all commercial inbound flights.
“The policy is downright unfair and treating international students as expendable,” she added.
Phuong Do Thanh Bui, an MBA student also at UMass Boston, said domestic politics may have had a bearing on the ICE decision.
“I think it’s just a decision of (US President) Donald Trump to force all the universities to open.”
Most students said they hoped to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation, which would allow them to work in the US for a year.
Several universities have already spoken out against the policy change and Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have even filed a lawsuit against the administration over the regulations. — Vietnam News/ANN
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