BLACKSBURG, Va. – A new federal immigration policy has thousands of U.S. college and university students at risk of being deported.
Colleges and universities are trying to help their students stay in the country as many shift to online classes.
Students at any college or university that will being taking all of their classes online this fall either because they don’t feel comfortable in a classroom setting or because the school isn’t offering on campus learning opportunities will have to go back to their home country, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
”I’m still a bit worried,” said Jon Labatut, a Virginia Tech graduate student from France.
Labatut is one of around 4,000 international students enrolled at Virginia Tech.
He wants to continue his education here but he isn’t 100% confident he’ll be able to because he has no control over about whether his professors will offer on-campus learning
“I’m talking as a French student. There, we don’t have to pay for education so I chose to come to the U.S. and invest myself to discover the country,” Labatut said.
University spokesperson Mark Owczarski said the university is committed to helping however it can.
“(On Monday) for example, Virginia Tech hosted a virtual town hall with international students who are both here in Blacksburg, here in the U.S. and even overseas. We had more than 500 of our 4,000 international students participate. So many are getting help, many we are reaching out to, to make sure that each individual person’s needs are understood,” Owczarski said.
How the university may change in the future to keep people safe and still keep international students here is unknown, but Owczarski believes the university is prepared
“Because many of them are engaged in research, teaching and things like that, that will satisfy the requirement of being here in the need to be here. So many of our students, we feel very confident that we’ll be able to help and support their needs,” said Owczarski.
Labatut agrees that the university has been very helpful, but that still doesn’t put his mind completely at ease.
“You feel like you’re investing yourself in the country and you’re looked over a bit. So it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, but we are trying to find a solution and stay positive,” Labatut said.
On Monday, 10 News also reached out to Averett University.
The university is expecting about 80 international students in the fall and as of Monday was assessing each individual students’ needs.