UNC-Charlotte student launches petition asking for university to create one-credit class so international students can remain in the United States

Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:46 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Sahithi Meduri, an undergraduate student studying computer science at UNC-Charlotte, is asking for her peers to sign a new petition. Meduri is from India and has been living in the United States with a visa. She said she is used to the challenges that come with being an international student learning in America.

“I was kind of used to it by now because immigration laws change left and right and I see something on the news that affects me very other day,” said Meduri.

An announcement made Monday by the Trump administration presents a new challenge for international students like Meduri. Under federal guidelines from US.. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, non-immigrant students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The new rules state that students with entirely online course loads will need to leave the country or transfer to a school that’s offering in-person instruction.

The U.S. Department of State issued a press release Tuesday addressing the new federal rules for international students.

“This temporary accommodation provides greater flexibility for non-immigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America,” noted the release.

A spokesperson from UNC-Charlotte issued a statement in response to the new federal rules. The statement is listed below:

UNC Charlotte plans to offer instruction this fall using a combination of in-person, hybrid and remote learning classes.

We have approximately 1,000 enrolled international students and know that fewer than 100 of those may be impacted by the recent modifications to the Student and Exchange Visitor program (SEVP) exemptions issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

We plan to reach out directly to our impacted students and expect to be able to offer them in-person and hybrid classes that will enable all international students to maintain their visa status.

“I’m really hoping that they don’t switch online in the middle of the semester because that would be a really rough time for international students,” said Meduri.

The computer science student created an online petition urging the university to create a special one-credit class specifically to allow international students to stay in the United States if campus-wide instruction had to be moved entirely online. The petition had been signed by more than 4,000 people Wednesday night.

Meduri said she wishes the federal government would reconsider the new rules for international students.

“I would really urge those officials to actually sit and down and talk to students in our situations rather than just making rules for the sake of business or tuition money or whatever,” she said.

Yash Tadimalla, an international student pursuing a doctorate at UNC-Charlotte, said he is also worried about potentially having to leave the country.

“The worst thing would be me having to stop my research and my doctoral program and then going back to India and not knowing what the next step is,” said Tadimalla.

A link to Meduri’ petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-north-carolina-at-charlotte-unc-charlotte-admin-create-a-one-credit-class-so-international-students-can-stay-in-the-us?recruiter=1064854455&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_term=psf_combo_share_abi&recruited_by_id=7f940e60-6fb3-11ea-b76d-d94be6e727ba

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