What’s next for students planning to study in US?

The United States of America

The US Embassy and Consulate are closed for visa processing and no dates for visas are available till further notice. In fact, the earliest available date for a visa to the US is February 2021. But this author is sanguine enough to believe that the earliest available date may come down to a more realistic July or August. If the situation resolves within the next 12 to 16 weeks, things will be simpler to understand. It is also the strong belief of this writer, that should that happen, the US Embassy shall give priority to students applying for visas and will try to clear as many visas as possible by August-end or thereabouts.

If the situation does not ease within this period, what can possibly happen is:

1) US universities shall start their programmes for Fall 2020 as scheduled, in August/ September 2020. A few are talking of pushing back the date of start of the programme by a month or so to accommodate international students.

2) If a student is unable to get the US visa on time (Which is looking more likely as the time progresses), the student’s admission is likely to be deferred to Spring/Fall 2021.

3) Please note that admission shall be deferred only if the student does not take up another academic course (In other words, a student will need to either work on some internship/project or work. But not join a college/ university for a degree/ diploma).

4) Almost all US universities are offering courses online for the current cohort of students (already in the US) and this is a temporary relief granted in view of the situation.

5) There is a general hope among admissions officers of US universities that the US government will allow this facility to international students too for Fall 2021. In such a case, students may be allowed to complete courses even as they are in their home countries and thus earn credits for the courses they may complete.

6) Universities like Georgia Institute of Technology have started the option of offering courses online, so long as the programme is available online. This is especially good news since it shall permit students to complete a few credits online and benefit from transferring the credits to the university, when they land for a later semester.