On Monday, the United States Immigration and Customs Ent announced new guidelines for both foreigners studying in the US and those planning to travel to the United states for scholarship.
This guidelines though quite ambiguous and complex entails that students who are pursuing degrees or aim to pursue degrees in the United states risks deportation if these universities eventually switched to online- only courses.
This move if implemented will affect thousands of foreign students including Nigerians who constitute a larger proportion of Africans travelling outside the shores of the country to study. Statistics show that Nigerians constitute one-third of Africa students studying in the states which is approximately 13,000 Nigerians and about 39,000 Africans on a yearly basis.
Schools such as Havard and some others have already begun a mandatory course online for students, due to the Covid-19 pandemic as all course instructions will be delivered online to both students living in the campus and off campus.
The ICE in a news release stated that students who fall under certain visas may not take full online course. Students on F-1 and M-1 Visas who face such situation may depart the country or take other measures such as transferring to a school with in- person instruction to remain in lawful status.
Part of the guidelines read thus…… ‘Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled 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. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,’…..Students who also will not be able to resume with their peers on the same day after the deadline date, might risk forfeiting their programs as there will be no room for admission.
Also, the Central bank of Nigeria has announced the resumption of the sale of foreign exchange to students intending to study abroad, and worse still is the fact that the exchange rate of naira to dollar is on the rise as at the time of this report.
Other citizens of different nationalities face the same challenge also.