International Students Face New Problem Due to the Pandemic


July 13th, 2020

Ali Al-Ghaithi, International Student. Ali is working on getting his master’s degree in Data Science at UNO.

OMAHA – Oman is a country on the Arabian peninsula in West Asia, near Iran and Pakistan. In Oman, the government together with private sponsors pay college tuition outside of the country, to the most outstanding students.

“Well, my last decision when chatting to go studies abroad I had the (United) Stated and the UK. I drew the advantages and disadvantages table and most other people will do that, I know the USA has diversity, and people come from all over,” Ali Al-Ghaithi, says.

Al-Ghaithi was born in Oman, chose The United States to do his graduate program in Mathematics, his other options were the UK, Germany, and Israel. He came to Omaha in 2014, now he is 24-years-old, and he is doing his graduate program in Data Science, a relatively new program at UNO.

The Trump administration announced a new sudden change in US immigration regulations due to the pandemic levels. Thousands of international students are unsure whether they will be able to study in this country in the fall. 

Last week, Immigration released a letter that foreign students must be enrolled in at least one face-to-face class. If not, they have to leave the country. The letter refers to a legal change not yet published, but that will be official, soon.

The UNO International program’s office has been working meticulously with members of the international student community to help affected students stay on track in their academic journey. Students who are not able to meet the requirements, most make plans to leave the country, as UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold says in his statement released last week. 

UNO is considered one of the most diverse universities in the region, possibly one of the factors that attracted Al-Ghaithi to come to Omaha.

“I moved to the Stated by myself and been in this journey for the last six years,” 

Al-Ghaithi, visited his family twice since he moved to the United States. He works as a graduate assistant at UNO to pay for his grad program. 

Even though this rule for international students is not new, he worries why the Trump Administration made this decision. 

“As an international student, it is a little bit shocking as I was very involved with international students. I have a lot of friends who are very shocked by this and started to be more worried,” Al-Ghaithi, says.

Last year the United States granted almost four hundred thousand visas for foreign students type “F” and about one thousand for what is calls vocational students or type “M.”

The exchange students and visitors program issued an exception, so students could take their classes online when the confinement orders for the pandemic began and all the educational institutions closed their doors. That exception is what changes now.

Some of Al-Ghaiti friends from Oman were not able to be back to the United States to continue with their studies because the American embassy had been closed due to the pandemic. 

“We don’t have an option, probably the best option is to wait, when they open you, go an, apply for the visa to be renewed, it is basically, it is so hard to treat different nations in a different way because this basically the only way to get the visa,” Al-Ghaithi, says.

At the moment, Al-Ghaith thinks he is safe and trusts that UNO will do everything possible to ensure that its international students will not have to leave the country and continue their studies.

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