Temporary Closure of University Campuses Affects International Students

By Jonathan Nunez Salgado

Photo by: Dhammika Heenpella / CWSSIP Images of Sri Lanka is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

ARLINGTON, VA- The closing of university campuses across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected more than a million international students living in university dorms, forcing them to find a new place to live, far from their homelands, and remaining in quarantine in the United States.

A large number of international students have visa restrictions that prevent them from working off-campus, which are now closed. Some international students said that as the money in their bank accounts starts to go down, they have no choice but to go to the different food bank locations to get food.

Donald Trump announced that international students would be excluded from the $6 billion in federal aid targeted to
help students pay for expenses such as food and housing. “I was hoping to receive money from our school or the
federal government to help pay me for my school tuition and other personal expenses,” said a Marymount University
freshman student from Colombia, who decided to remain anonymous.

Other foreign students are staying with their friends but don’t know how much longer they will be accommodated.
“I have had to stay at one of my friend’s home in Pennsylvania for the past three weeks waiting to be able to return to my country,” said a Marymount University sophomore student from Nicaragua, who decided to remain anonymous.

Other students went to airports before countries close their borders and now are waiting in their country for the pandemic to end, yet they are afraid of facing legal problems when they return to the United States to finish their studies. “I was going to stay with an uncle and his family in New York, but then I decided to go back to my country due to the pandemic,” said a Marymount University senior student from Saudi Arabia, who decided to remain anonymous.

The consulates of the United States abroad are closed indefinitely. The State Department has also suspended visa
procedures until further notice. International students have become more uncertain about their legal status due to the coronavirus pandemic. Generally, visas for international students require them to have to take in-person classes and not online. The Department of Homeland Security mitigates the provision temporarily as a result of the crisis but can revoke this provision at any time.

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