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Embassy Spokesperson’s response to media queries on the US immigration authorities announcing modifications to requirements for student visas in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic

Embassy of India

Washington DC

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The Embassy Spokesperson’s response to media queries on the US immigration authorities announcing modifications to requirements for student visas in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • We have seen the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] announcement of 06 July regarding their Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) providing temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students on F-1 and M-1 visas taking online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the fall semester of the 2020 academic year.
  • While these modifications do provide some flexibility for US universities and colleges to adopt a hybrid model - that is, a mixture of online and in person classes - they also restrict international students on F-1 and M-1 visas from taking courses entirely online.
  • These new modifications at a time when many of the US universities and colleges are yet to announce their plans for the new academic year are likely to cause uncertainties and difficulties for some Indian students wishing to pursue their studies in the US.
  • We have taken up this matter with concerned US officials. At the India –US Foreign Office Consultations held on 07 July 2020, Foreign Secretary Harsh VardhanShringla conveyed our concerns on this matter to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.
  • Partnership in higher education is a key component of the strong people-to-people ties between India and the United States. In the last two decades, Indian students in US universities and colleges have been the harbingers of a strong partnership between technology and innovation sectors between our two countries.
  • We hope that the US authorities would provide adequate flexibility in their visa rule making while keeping in mind the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic for the Indian student community.
  • We continue to engage all the stakeholders in the matters, including the US Administration officials, Congressional leaders, universities and colleges as well as the Indian student community in the US as we move forward towards the 2020-21 academic year to further strengthen our bilateral partnership in higher education.

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