Jul 13, 2020 / 18:46

Vietnam may operate repatriation flights for Vietnamese students in US

The Hanoitimes - Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training noted that if students have to return home for online studying, they need to register with the Vietnamese embassy in the US for returning flights.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training may proposed the government operate flights to repatriate Vietnamese students in the US, according to a representative from the Department of International Cooperation under the ministry.

 Harvard University, one of the institutions holding online classes in the autumn. Photo: Bloomberg

In a news release on July 6, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division said: "The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the US."

ICE suggested students currently enrolled in America consider other measures, such as transferring to schools with on-site or hybrid classes, a mix of online and in-person lessons. If not, students will risk deportation.

Vietnam now has some 30,000 students in the North American country.

Nerves

The new visa policy in the US has put thousands of Vietnamese students at risk of deportation and left their academic and professional dreams in tatters.

Linh Pham, a student at the University of Washington, which plans for its summer and fall classes to be conducted 100% online, told VnExpress that she felt disappointed and nervous.

Since the outbreak hit the US, Linh has attended online classes and stayed home to avoid Covid-19 infection, and now, she is at risk of being forced to leave the US.

The institute’s international student services office has sent an email to reassure students, stating they are working with the state’s congressional delegation and federal officials to reach a final decision, Linh said.

"If you are in America, just stay calm and consider feasible solutions, do not panic or be confused," she wrote in a 6,000-member Facebook group about studying in America, quoting her university’s email.

Nguyen Mai Anh, who is studying master’s in International Relations at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, told Vietnam News Agency that her school had already announced that classes would be entirely online this fall.

“I am very concerned because my university said that they will run only online classes in the fall and no in-person classes will be held,” she said, adding that she thought the ICE's decision is “totally unfair and illogical.”

Linh and Anh said that the quality of their education has decreased by learning online only, despite the best efforts of their professors.

Several universities have already spoken out against the policy change. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have even filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the regulations.

 Vietnamese international students in the United States. Source: Linh Pham

Stay calm and wait

The education ministry has asked Vietnamese students to stay calm and learn their schools’ instructions to find a suitable solution. If students have to return home for online studying, they need to register with the Vietnamese embassy in the US for returning flights.

The Ministry of Education and Training will continue to work with relevant agencies, especially the US embassy in Vietnam, to update the situation and provide appropriate and timely support for Vietnamese international students.

On July 8, the ministry also worked with the US embassy in Vietnam on the issue. A representative of the US embassy said that he would timely inform Vietnamese students in the US in case of any further development.

The two sides would work closely together to ensure the best benefits for Vietnamese students in the US, the representative stressed.

Vietnam has suspended all international flights since March 25 and has only granted permission for some special flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens stranded abroad and fly in foreign experts and workers who are indispensable for major economic projects.

Since April, the country has carried out nearly 60 repatriation flights to bring its citizens home.

Vietnamese embassystrives to ensure students' rights

The Vietnamese embassy in the US said that the educational institutes with international students have been considering appropriate measures to adapt to the new regulations.

The embassy recommended Vietnamese students keep calm and close contact with the departments of foreign affairs in their schools.

The Vietnamese students are also advised to maintain contact with national diplomatic missions and representations in the US where emergency lines are available to this effect.

Vietnamese students should keep in touch with the Vietnam Youth-Student Association in the US for further information, the embassy said.

“Currently, we have kept working with the relevant US agencies and requested them to take measures to ensure the interests of our students during their study in the US. Many schools have received their students' feedback and also raised the issue with relevant US government agencies," Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc told VOV.