Thousands of students in the Arab World who had hoped to complete their higher education overseas this fall are having to put their dreams on hold because of closed university campuses in the United States and Europe, travel and visa restrictions, strained finances and other hardships brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some who wanted to come to the United States now find that possibility hinges on university decisions about whether to hold classes in person or online. U.S. immigration officials announced this week that student visas would not be issued to people enrolled in programs that are fully online, and that students already in the United States must leave “or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction,” if they want to remain.

Bishoy Magdy Zaki, a 29-year-old Egyptian, is among the students whose plans were in limbo. Zaki was preparing to start a Ph.D. program in the United States in September, but the coronavirus lockdown measures “stopped everything,” he said… more