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Nigerians, international students in United States risk deportation over Covid-19

NEWSMAN – Foreign students pursuing degrees in the United States may need to leave the country if their universities switch to taking online classes.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in a statement on Monday said international students who do not comply with the rules will be deported.

ICE added that students who fall under certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding, “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.”

“There’s so much uncertainty. It’s very frustrating,” said Valeria Mendiola, 26, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “If I have to go back to Mexico, I am able to go back, but many international students just can’t.”, CNN reported.

The social distancing rule caused by the coronavirus pandemic has made many educational institutions across the globe switch to online learning.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is run by ICE, had permitted foreign students to continue with their spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the country.

The rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in the fiscal year 2019, according to the agency’s data.

According to the US Commerce Department, international students contributed $45 billion (£36 billion) to the country’s economy in 2018 while the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, DC, said about 1.2 million students who fall under the affected visas were enrolled and registered at more than 8,700 schools nationwide as of March 2018 with 13,423 Nigerian students.

Critics say the latest move is in furtherance of President Donald Trump’s exploitation of the pandemic to limit legal immigration to the U.S as green cards for new immigrants were already suspended in addition recently signed executive order which suspended temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers and au pairs through until the end of the year.

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