Uncertainty over student visas added concern for Tejaswin

The decision by the U.S. Government to not allow international students pursuing online courses further stay in the country has put Tejaswin in a fix.

Tejaswin Shankar holds the national record at 2.29m in high jump.   -  PTI Photo

While most sportspersons across the world are concerned about training, preparations and restarting of events amidst the ongoing pandemic, high jump national record holder, Tejaswin Shankar, has an added worry at the moment – uncertainty over his situation in the United States as an international student on sports scholarship.

The reason being the latest decision by the U.S. Government to not allow international students pursuing entirely online courses further stay in the country.

Tejaswin, who is a majoring in Business Administration at the Kansas State University, has been there since 2018. In fact, he was among the few Indian students to stay put in the U.S. when restrictions over COVID-19 began, training hard on his own.

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“That’s an evolving situation at the moment so not sure what to expect as of now. They (the university) are saying that we will have a hybrid model so foreign students at K-State enrolled in face-to-face classes shouldn’t worry. But if things change or get worse then we might be moved online, which would mean we might have to come back,” Tejaswin told Sportstar.

The revised timeline for the Fall Semester includes a quarantine period for international arrivals and classes beginning August 17 but with the new regulations, it remains to be seen how the universities adjust.

The hybrid model permits a mix of in-person and online classes without a limit, allowing existing students to remain in the country and fresh arrivals.

“They should tell us before August 17 as the semester starts then. I have another two years before I’m done with my course,” the 21-year old Tejaswin added.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced modifications on Monday to the temporary exemptions made to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for non-immigrant students taking online classes.

The exemptions had been made for the spring and summer semesters allowing students to take more online courses than permitted.

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There is good news, though, with the University indicating it was working out ways to allow international students to stay in the US.

“Kansas State University currently plans to hold classes physically in person for the Fall 2020. In order to allow for social distancing many classes are transitioning to a hybrid model to allow for a combination of online and in-person instruction,” Amy Hall, Assistant Director of International Recruitment & Admissions at the University told Sportstar in an e-mail.

“As our plan currently stands, international students will be able to stay in the US to continue their studies through these hybrid offerings. This is the case for both undergraduate and graduate populations.”

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