A platform of these students recently sent a letter regarding their crisis to the US embassy in Dhaka and the foreign ministry, but they have received no response so far
Ishan Maitra graduated from Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, and got an offer for admission to a programme with full funding at Oklahoma State University last year.
He was supposed to begin his studies there in summer or fall this year, but that did not happen as the US embassy in Dhaka stopped issuing visas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently, the embassy restarted accepting applications for visa renewals, but it has not yet resumed accepting applications for new visas from students who are planning to go there for the first time.
Ishan as well as several thousand other Bangladeshi students are going through an uncertain situation as the US embassy has not yet announced a date for resuming the visa process for new students.
At a press briefing on Saturday, a platform of these students said around 2,500 Bangladeshi students went to the US for studies in 2019. As the number increases every year, it has been projected that around 3,000-3,500 students are supposed to go there this year.
But almost none of the students who were scheduled to start their studies at American universities in the fall semester this year could go there as visa processing at the US embassy was halted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, admission proposals, funding, scholarships and fellowships of many students have been cancelled.
The students' platform recently sent a letter regarding their crisis to the US embassy in Dhaka and Bangladesh's foreign ministry, but they have received no response so far.
Students usually begin studies at US universities in the fall semester, which commences in August and ends in December or January. After that, the spring semester starts and lasts till May.
Ishan said, "A faculty member was very impressed with my profile and asked me to go there in summer, so I thought that I would leave in May this year. At that time I had a contract for a job that ended in March. After that I received offers for some other jobs, but I accepted none of them."
"Recently the faculty member I was contacting said he would shift my admission to the spring semester, because I would not be able to go there even in the fall. Now, what will I do if I cannot arrive there even in the spring semester?" asked the perplexed student.
Nowadays Ishan idles away his days at home as he waits for the visa process to resume. He is not taking up a permanent job as he does not know what might happen next.
On condition of anonymity, another student of Dhaka University told The Business Standard that she got an admission offer for a fully funded PhD programme at a US university, and a faculty member from there has been frequently inquiring about her time of arrival there.
She said, "They have postponed my admission for six months already. But they are losing confidence in me as students from our neighboring countries have been getting US visas. Now he doubts if I will be able to go from Bangladesh at all."
"I do not know how much my university will cooperate with me. My classes in the spring semester will start in January 2021. If I cannot arrive there by that time, my admission will be cancelled," she added.
The student said her family has been putting pressure on her to look for some other options, but she cannot do that as it has been her long cherished dream to study in a reputed US university.
Sources say that currently only those students who intend to resume their studies in the US and some other non-immigrants can apply for renewing their visas at the US embassy in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, at a recent press briefing, US Embassy Dhaka Consular Chief William Dowers said only students whose visas will expire soon and whose visas expired in the last 24 months can apply for visas.
Students facing problems in coming by US visas have already met Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, who assured them of discussing the matter with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun.
The students said if the US embassy in Dhaka does not resume the process of receiving new applications for F-1 and F-2 category visas for new non-immigrant students, their admission proposals will be cancelled.
The suffering students also claimed that US universities are showing reluctance in accepting new students in the spring session from Bangladesh due to the uncertainty over their visas.
The process of taking preparations for applying to US universities and getting admission into graduate programs with funding or scholarships usually takes around one and a half year for a student.
The process of applying for visas comes at the end of this lengthy and expensive process once a student gets admission to a university after competing with students from all over the world.