US Freezes Visas
On 6th July, the US Immigration Customs Enforcement decided to make changes in the Visa rules.
They predominantly said that the students must attend in-person classes to retain their F1 or N1 visas, if the University that they are currently attending doesn’t have in-person classes and have turned completely online – as most of them have due to the current pandemic – the students must leave the country or transfer to a different University or School that does in-person classes.
This decision affects around 2 lakhs Indian students and has plunged everyone to a terrible uncertainty.
According to an article published in Livemint, 80% of the American Universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Georgetown have switched their classes to the online mode – which means that the students who have been admitted into these prestigious Schools and Universities are now wondering how to overcome this crucial situation.
Although the government of the United States had come out and said that these rules were temporary, there hasn’t any more clarity been given on it further. Also we are aware of the Visa ban which was announced by the US president, Donald Trump – H1B, H2B, H4, J-1 and L1 visas have been suspended till the end of this year.
These are speciality Visas normally used by Indians in the IT sector, Engineers, most of them who may have returned to India for whatever reasons, suddenly find themselves stuck outside of the US. 2.5 lakhs H1B applications went this year till today, out of which 1.8 lakhs went in from the Indians.
What does Visa policy changes mean for Indians especially students and professionals who are working there?
Charushila Dixit, H4 Visa holder, in an interview said, “I came to India on March 13th, my father had passed away on March 11th. It was already devastating for me, I reached really late as I had few complications while coming to India, my flights got delayed and till the time I reached here, the funerals and rituals were done as my family weren’t sure of my return due to this pandemic. After coming here, I had my Visa appointment on 26th March. As I am eligible for the Visa, so I don’t really need to go for Counselling and have an interview. My husband is in US for the last 12 years, I have stayed there for 8 years. I have come here with my son who is an US citizen and stuck here till December. I was working in a Clinic as a practitioner there and my employer called me an hour ago, said that I was laid off from the job as they couldn’t wait for my return further till December”.
ThePrint has published a story about New Delhi raising issues on the move regarding the ban imposed on the student Visas. “India believes that the latest decision will incur long term repercussions. This is unacceptable and this will adversely impact even the US image as a credible destination for higher studies. So India, apparently, is likely to raise the issue of student Visa with the Donald Trump administration sometime this week”, writes ThePrint.
Whether to give a Visa or not and whether to change anything in a Visa is a sovereign decision of the government. Today if India decides that it won’t allow a certain Visa to a certain category of people, that’s a sovereign decision of the government, can’t be challenged by any other country whatsoever. If it has to be solved, then solely via. the diplomatic routes.
“I am confident that the Ministry of External Affairs is already talking to the Americans; they might have already made their objections known to the US government”, Ambassador Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Former Secretary, MEA said.
On being asked why this banning of Visa has happened now and that too until December 2020, he further stated, “The answer is very clear at least in my mind that it’s because of the presidential election. I think President Trump, who is now trailing terribly against his democratic rival Joe Biden, is now catching on these kind of issues which he knows worked during his last electoral campaign”.
The people here are stuck till December as elections in the US are in November. The dialogue that is going on in between the US and Indian governments on this issue may lead to some sort of solutions for exclusive cases of emergency. We need to influence the US government and their administration to deal with the situation keeping the humanitarian aspects in mind.
“All those who are stuck here and there, the larger community of H1B Visa holders, the Indian, the American companies, the Congress men and women and Senators, I think a huge Campaign combining all is utmost necessary. Although, I don’t think Trump will barge, except may give some concessions or increase the exceptions for emergencies”, Former Secretary, MEA said.
The problem is that we are dealing with an administration which is unpredictable, Trump wants to win the next election, he doesn’t care about the repercussions resulting from it. The politics of it will dictate most of the decisions eventually.
[Images from different sources]
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