UTRGV international students at-risk for deportation because of online classes

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) – Universities and vocational schools must change how fall classes are offered in order to keep students from being deported.

Students in the United States on an F-1 or M-1 visa, must enroll in a hybrid model schedule for the fall semester or “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” Immigrations Customs and Enforcement said in a statement.

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, universities across the county shifted to online fall semesters. UTRGV, in Cameron and Hidalgo County where the virus has spiked, has online and in-person class options.

The hybrid model could save S M Abdur Rob, a Bangladesh student, from ending his Manufacturing Engineering Masters plan, “we’re really nervous… we’re really scared,” said Rob.

One of the challenges a university faces by not offering a hybrid model is attendance in different time zones, “if the classes start at 2 p.m. in the USA, that would be 1 a.m. in my time in Bangladesh.” said Rob.

Rob is one of 400 international students enrolled for the fall with UTRGV. The pandemic has slowed enrollment but on average UTRGV educates 800 students from countries outside of the US.

“We are going to try to find other course offerings for them or try to work with professors to make exceptions,” said UTRGV spokesperson Patrick Gonzales.

UTRGV is urging students with questions regarding the new guidelines, to please contact the Office of Global Engagement (OGE) at (956) 882-7092 or (956) 665-3572, or email OGE@utrgv.edu.

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