A top Rwandan diplomat this weekend has appealed to Rwandan students in the United States to be prepared for uncertainty as the Trump administration announced its controversial visa policy for international students.
Foreign students currently in the United States on F-1 and M-1 visas “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” if their school’s classes are entirely online in the fall semester, announced the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this week.
Rwandan Ambassador to the United States Mathilde Mukantabana has appealed to Rwandan students in the United States, who are in more than 200 institutions, to prepare themselves and act according to their school’s policy, noting the possibility of them having to leave the nation, The New Times reported in its weekend edition.
According to The New Times, Rwandan students in the United States are concerned about their possible departure from the nation as well as the risks and costs of traveling.
As it stands, more than one million international students (about 5.5 percent of the total U.S. higher education population) currently in the U.S. are facing the difficult choice of losing their visa status—and throwing away years of study—or risking their health.
While the directive allows for a narrow mix of online and in-person instruction, the details are unclear, and it doesn’t allow for a completely online course load, even in a COVID-19 spike. If any face-to-face class moves online, students would immediately lose their visas.
To date, the government hasn’t provided details on how long students have to figure out their situation, nor has it explained the ramifications of deportation for future study in the U.S.