As foreign students fear new US regulations, varsities try calm Indian students’ fears

Saaedah Shiravany, an Iranian MBA student at a top US business school, says news of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US left her feeling “empty”.

Shiravany (not her real name) worries that she will be unable to graduate because the ban, covering Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia as well as her homeland, would prevent her from participating in an overseas corporate assignment that is a requirement of her course. She fears that if she were to leave the US for the assignment, she may not be able to re-enter the country to complete her studies. “This ban has robbed me of the experience I came here to have,” she says. Leaving the US would mean saying goodbye to completing her MBA next year.

Shiravany is only one among the thousands of students in the USA from abroad, who have expressed and experienced such fears in the past week. Allaying fears of such international students following US President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order targeting immigrants, several American universities are mailing prospective students to let them know that that they are welcome to their campuses, regardless of what the Trump government says.

While these mails are an attempt to reassure immigrant students, these may have also become necessary since the US remains the hub for Indian students. Mubarak Kader, who applied for the engineering management program at Duke University in North Carolina, received a mail from the university this week. “We know many members of the global community are… concerned about the new policies,” wrote the university, adding links to statements from the institution president who promised to bring these concerns “to the attention of policymakers and public”. The president of our university sent out a similar message to us, international students, on the campus. He told us how the university will always be a place for people of different cultures to come together and engage in dialogue,” said a student pursuing law at the University of Miami. Other institutions, like the

University of Michigan and Northeastern University, too, have sent out similar mails to students who may be apprehensive about being subjected to discrimination while at university or being detained at immigration points as witnessed at several US airports over the week.

Anupama Vijay, an education consultant, said: “Indians pursuing professional courses will have no issues as their student visas entitle them to a five-year optional practical training period. Only after this period does securing an H-1B visa become a concern. Their status as students in the US will be untouched by the new policy,” she says.

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