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International Students Tangled by COVID-19


COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are complicating the return to classes this fall for some University of Alaska Fairbanks international students.

UAF Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Anupma Prakash identifies an array of issues, from travel bans, to a lack of flights, closed immigration and visa offices, as well as a Trump administration order that bans international students from the US if they can take their classes on line. 

"They are allowed to be in the US to take classes only if the classes are offered in person, or a mixture of in-person and online classes. If the classes are all online and distance-delivered, they cannot be physically in the US."

Noting the exemption for international students attending universities like UAF, with a planned mix of in person and on line courses this fall, Parkash says the university is working to accommodate the students and their desire to be in Alaska.

"Students want to be in the US, they want to be on campus, but they want to know if they will be able to get their visas -- that we'll be able to process their visa paperwork."

Prakash says UAF has 134 international students, adding that some university employees are also affected by new immigration and travel rules. She points to another presidential proclamation affecting the hiring of international employees requiring H-one-B visas.

"That is the most popular type of visa we have for bringing in faculty and researchers with special expertise for research projects. Those are the ones who are impacted, becaue they cannot enter the country until the end of December 2020.”

Prakash says the situation has delayed the hiring of 17 UAF employees, individuals she stresses have specific expertise that’s difficult to find in the US.


Dan has been in public radio news in Alaska since 1993. He’s worked as a reporter, newscaster and talk show host at stations in McGrath, Valdez and Fairbanks. Dan’s experience includes coverage of a wide range of topics, from wolf control to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and dog mushing.