The US embassy in Doha has issued a statement on new student visa guidance. “Student visas are an important priority for US embassy Doha, and we are proud of the success Qatari students have had at US academic institutions. We appreciate the patience of students and their families during this extraordinary time,” it said.
Guidance from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicates that students enrolled under a fully online programme at an academic institution should depart the United States. “We are pleased to announce, however, that many international students who had planned to study this fall in the United States may still have the opportunity to do so.
“The Department of Homeland Security has announced its plan for temporary modifications to F-1 and M-1 non-immigrant visa requirements for the fall 2020 semester to allow those students taking in-person classes or pursuing a ‘hybrid model’—that is, a mixture of online and in-person classes — to qualify for non-immigrant student status. These students would be allowed to stay in the United States while completing their studies.”
This temporary accommodation provides “greater flexibility” for non-immigrant students to continue their education in the US, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America, the statement noted. Students should contact their Designated School Official (DSO) at their academic institution to understand the rules for their programme. “Your DSO can tell you whether you should apply for a student (F-1) visa at this time,” it advised.
International students will also still have to obtain the appropriate visa and may still be subject to other visa processing or travel restrictions due to Covid-19. “Please contact our Consular Section at [email protected] with questions regarding your specific situation. Our staff stands ready to assist,” the statement continued. “For new students wishing to apply to US universities for the upcoming academic year, please also feel free to reach out to our Educational Advising Team at [email protected] with any questions you may have.”
As the guidance unfolds, the embassy staff will continue to co-ordinate with the Ministry of Higher Education to address students’ questions and concerns. The website, www.qa.usembassy.gov, should be checked regularly for updates.
For the full press releases from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, one can consult https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-modifies-temporary-exemptions-nonimmigrant-students-taking-online-courses-during and https://www.state.gov/international-students-are-welcome-in-the-u-s/.
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