Coming to the aid of two brothers from poor socio-economic background and desirous of going to the US for higher education but for visa troubles, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to consider permitting them to travel on ‘F-1 visa’ with an undertaking that they will return to India after completing their education.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru asked the Centre to consider allowing Gaurav Deep and Varun Deep to travel to the US for pursuing Masters in Software Engineering from Auburn University on F-1 visa, without insisting on J-1 visa.
The material difference between ‘F-1 visa’ and ‘J-1 visa’ is that there is scope to change the status from ‘F-1 visa’ to other visas, which is impermissible in case of J-1 visa. Thus, it is theoretically possible for the petitioners to not to return India after completion of their course and obtain another visa. This option is not available in case of ‘J-1 visa’, which mandatorily requires the students to return to their home country for atleast a period of two years.
The controversy erupted when Gaurav and Varun, belonging to Scheduled Caste category, were selected for the National Overseas Scholarship for the SC by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which gives SC candidates from economically weaker sections a chance to pursue higher studies in foreign varsities.
The two brothers got selected in the Centre’s scholarship scheme in February, 2016.
However, they could not go ahead with their plans as the Government of India insisted that the candidate is required to obtain only J-1 visa, if applying for admission in any university in the United States of America. If not, then he or she may fund the studies personally.
The university, on the other hand, maintained that since they were applying for a degree programme, it made them eligible for an F-1 visa.
The brothers then approached the Delhi High Court through advocate and social activist Ashok Agarwal, who prayed the court that they be allowed to proceed to the US on F- 1 visa.
Agarwal told the court that the petitioners are willing to give an undertaking that they shall immediately on completion of their course return to India and also not travel to the US for a further period of two years as is the condition attributable to ‘J-1 visa’. They further stated that they would not make any application for change of their visa status once they travel to the US.
“In view of the above, it is suggested that in the peculiar circumstances (where the university in question is not willing to sponsorship a ‘J-1 visa’), the respondents may consider permitting the petitioners to travel on ‘F-1 visa’ with the aforementioned undertakings. The respondents may also consider obtaining a security bond from the petitioners’ fathers,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.