Amidst pressure from various groups including top institutions such as Harvard and MIT, Trump Administration on 14th July rescinded its earlier decision to suspend issuance of F1 visa to international students pursuing academic and vocational program in the US. On 6 July, the ICE had issued a notification banning entry and stay of foreign students pursuing higher education in the US through entirely online mode.
This decision to withdraw the 6 July order would definitely provide relief to foreign students who faced the possibility of being deported back to their native country since their F (academic) and M (vocational) visas would no longer be renewed by the US. F and M Visas are mandatory for international students to enter and stay in the US.
However, this is still not sufficient to allay the concerns of international students as the Trump Administration hasn’t extended this exemption to H and L visas holders.
In this blog, Student Cover we discuss why the decision by the US government to ban foreign professionals from entering US has opened new windows of opportunity. Many developed nations such as UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are now actively pursuing such students and encouraging them to pursue higher education in academic institutions of their respective countries.
How Other Nations Are Re-Strategizing To Attract International Students?
As in the US, colleges and universities in countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland too dependent heavily on international students for revenue. Many of those institutions witnessed a sharp fall in applications this year due to Covid-19 pandemic. This has forced governments in those countries to make policy changes to arrest the falling number of international applicants.
The UK government has issued an updated guidance that makes international students, including Indians, eligible for post-study work rights at the end of their course. This provision is applicable even to those students whose who are being taught entirely through online mode. It will not only allow students to work or look for work for two years after completing their course in the UK, but also enable them to switch to skilled work visa if they meet skill requirement of a job in the UK.
UK is expecting a 50-75 percent drop in international students enrolling in courses in its colleges and universities. Hence, it hopes that through these measures will incentivize students, including those who are dropping their plan to study in the US, to choose UK as an alternative overseas education destination.
• International students including Indians, from academic year 2020-21 onwards, will be eligible for post-study work rights after completing degree course.
• 14 days quarantine in UK mandatory for international students joining in Sept.
• UK Govt. also asked by British lawmakers to consider scheme to allow transfer of students affected by US visa ban to UK Universities.
VISA SERVICE STATUS: UK Visas and Immigration has begun a phased resumption of services at Visa Application Centres in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru (Global Tech Park only), Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai (Mahalaxmi only), New Delhi (Shivaji Metro Stadium only), and Pune.
Canada has been one of the most immigrant friendly nations in the developed world. However, it too was severely affected by Covid-19 pandemic as international applications dropped as a result of it. It has announced ‘flexible’ post-graduation work permit (PGWP) which, like UK allows, international students to seek jobs in Canada. At present, Canada’s visa offices in several countries are either closed due to pandemic or are operating at lower capacity. And while visa processing delays and long waiting periods are expected, they are only temporary inconveniences caused by the pandemic. Once the pandemic subsides, students will be able to get their visa processed on time.
For online courses, students may start taking online classes even without the mandatory study permit. However, the students are advised to apply for study permit in near future as it contributes greatly to a student’s PGWP eligibility after completion of their studies.
• Canada announced “flexible” post-graduation work permit rules for international students studying at a distance.
• Govt. is giving candidates more time to submit their documentation.
• It won’t refuse anyone if they are unable to submit a application due to COVID-19 interruptions.
• Students without a study permit can still start their studies online from abroad.
VISA SERVICE STATUS: The Canada Visa Application Centres in India will remain closed until further notice due to the Covid-19.
Along the lines of UK and Canada, Australia too is in the process of further relaxing rules around post-study work visa which would allow international students to work in the country for two to four years after completing their course. Moreover, work visa would also allow international students to bring their immediate family members such as spouse or children to Australia.
The government is also likely to amend the existing rules pertaining to work visa so that those students who are currently abroad due to the pandemic could also be given work rights. Current rule requires international students to be physically present in Australia for a period of at least 16 months for them to be eligible to apply for work visa. This move would benefit students who are pursing degree course in Australian universities and colleges through online mode from their native countries.
• The Australian government to relax its rules around post-study work visas for international students impacted by Covid-19
• Like UK, Students will be eligible for work visas for 2-4 years after completing course in Australia, even through online mode.
VISA SERVICE STATUS: New Delhi visa office is working with reduced staffing levels in response to the global COVID-19 situation.
Higher Education sector in Ireland is likely to be worst hit by the pandemic. According to an estimate, Ireland’s universities are expected to witness a fall in registration of first year students by a whopping 80%. This could lead to a revenue shortfall of €374 million in financial years 2020 and 2021. According to another estimate, the loss due to reduction in number of international students accepting admission offers could cause a shortfall of €181million in tuition fee itself.
In order to ensure that current students studying in Ireland are able to renew their visas, the government of Ireland has initiated online visa renewal system for foreign students who are living in Dublin.
• Govt launches online visa renewal system for foreign students in Dublin.
• Foreign students in Dublin don’t have to visit the visa registration office
• They can complete the process online and submit visa application for renewal and processing.
VISA SERVICE STATUS: The Ireland Visa Application Centres in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Jalandhar, Chandigarh and Kolkata has resumed accepting student and long-stay applications from 6 July 2020.
Other than Canada, New Zealand is another country that has always welcomed international students with open arms. However, Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected student intake in its colleges and universities. The government has put study and work visa processing in its 2nd priority list after essential health workers, APAC travel card holders and for humanitarian circumstances.
• After Health and Humanitarian workers, processing of onshore and offshore Student visas would be given utmost priority.
• Govt. will prioritize temporary entry visas, including student and post-study visas, and residence visas for applicants in New Zealand.
VISA SERVICE STATUS: Immigration offices in New Zealand are now open and we have started student visa processing. However, as of now, visa offices in Beijing, Manila, Mumbai and the Pacific remain closed.
While upcoming presidential elections might have led Trump Administration to restrict foreigners to join workforce in the US, other countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada see this as an opportunity to boost the number of international students are crucial for higher education sector in their country. Moreover, several studies in the past have shown that international students and professionals make positive contribution towards growth and development of local economy. Hence, while visa ban in the US is a setback, it is also an opportunity.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is based on personal research of the writer. Reader’s discretion is advised. Neither Student Cover nor the writer will be held responsible for any wrongful interpretation of the content of this blog.