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USF international students concerned about upcoming semester amid fears of being forced to leave US


TAMPA (WFLA) – Camila Cernawsky is originally from Brazil and is currently enrolled at the University of South Florida as a student.

“I always fell in love with the USF campus it’s so pretty and Tampa, I love Tampa,” said Cernawsky.

Now, like other international students, she is concerned about the coming school year. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory to international students telling them they must be enrolled in classes that involve in-person learning.

A statement from I.C.E. says the student visitor and exchange program has new modifications according to the advisory:

“The U.S. 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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

Cernawsky says her parents have informed her it’s not safe to travel right now.

“It’s getting worse and worse. I keep talking to my family every day and they are like conditions are bad, they’re not respecting social distancing, they’re not wearing masks and all of that,” said Cernawsky.

On Tuesday it was announced the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19.

Cernawsky says other international students at the University of South Florida have told her they are worried they may not be able to safely go home because of political turmoil in their own countries.

“They would not be allowed to go back to their country, so they don’t really have a choice, so they would have to go somewhere where their family is not there or stay here illegally, it’s kind of hard.” said Cernawsky.

Emmanuel Maduneme is a USF student from Nigeria. He says it wouldn’t be possible for him to return to his country if he wanted to right now.

“Right now, to be fair, my country has a ban on international travel, so it’s not any way feasible for me to go back to my country,” said Maduneme.

If Maduneme was allowed to return, he would not be able to attend classes at online because of a lack of affordable internet service in his country.

“It’s literally impossible because I don’t have the technical access,” said Maduneme.

A spokesperson for USF says the university will be offering a blend of online and in-person classes next semester and working with international students to ensure they know what they have to do to remain in the United States.


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