CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - International students at the University of Virginia are on edge after a federal regulation forces them to make the tough decision to either leave the U.S. or transfer colleges if their school is fully online in the fall.
“My friends and I were talking about it and were like what’s going to happen are we going to get deported,” said Mary, a rising third year international student from Singapore, who does not want her last name used for security reasons. “I think it was a lot for people like me to take in, in such a short period of time.”
A new federal policy says “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not remain in the United States.”
“Are we going to have to choose between death and deportation?” Mary asked.
University of Virginia President Jim Ryan and Provost Liz Magill have sent a letter to the UVA international community stating, “We write to assure you that the university stands with you. We are working with other universities to seek a change in this rule.”
“Having international students here on the grounds, in the classrooms, interacting with other students and faculty enriches all of us,” said University of Virginia’s Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Mull.
“We will fight to protect their right to to study here and to make sure they have the richest experience possible,” Mull said.
Dheeraj Ram is an international student at UVA and has called this place his home for two years.
“We need to stand up for what is right. That’s been lacking so far,” said Ram. “This gives us a good step to make things right again.”
As for Mary, she’s trying to stay positive and hopes she can remain on grounds for the fall semester.
“No matter how hard things get, I think we’ll be okay because there are people on our side fighting for us,” said Mary.
The University’s International Studies Office will be hosting a Town Hall meeting to hear from international students directly on Friday morning at 9.