International students in Vermont say making plans for the next few weeks and months is a little less stressful after the Trump Administration walked backed certain restrictions.
In March, ICE loosened a guideline, making it so that international students could take more online credits than their student visas originally allowed. But as universities and college announced plans of online learning, the guideline was suddenly reversed.
About a week later, the Trump Administration rescinded these restrictions. Foreign students are now free to continue their studies, at least for the duration of the pandemic.
“The Trump Administration has used the pandemic to almost weaponize our immigration system against our non-citizen neighbors,” said Erin Jacobsen, Director of South Royalton Legal Clinic.
One UVM student from Nepal says news of this policy was stressful.
“It was so infuriating. Having to go through so much and now they say only online classes that you cannot stay in the US…it was exactly infuriating,” said Shuvan Shrestha.
Shrestha explained he was hoping to reunite with his family in the summer but that wasn’t an option with flights and classes restarting in less than a month. The same is true for another international student from Paris who hopes to take her bar exam in February.
She told me the brief policy change made her worried as its challenging to obtain a student visa.
“I had a lot of feelings about all of this. People were like very supportive and other people were basically calling me illegal when I paid for my visa to be here…and I feel like it comes from a lot of lack knowledge of what it means to be an international is,” said Juliette Duffau, a law student at South Royalton.
Jacobsen says this is a small victory…but the uncertainty has been exhausting on her foreign students.
“A lot of people who might otherwise come to the United States are starting to be like, you know what, forget it, it’s too hostile, it’s too hard,” said Jacobsen.
Duffau told me she’s happy she can resume her studies for the time being, especially in Vermont.
“I feel safer in Vermont than anywhere else…Like during the pandemic, but also because like people are very welcoming and willing to help, and it’s something really nice…especially when you come from big cities,” said Duffau.