The Trump administration has long been on the warpath against international students and student visas, first trying to kick foreign students who take online classes due to Covid-19 out of the country, then cracking down on students with work permits through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and now planning to restrict student visas to fixed terms.
For background, international students who are approved, get issued F-1 student visas for “duration of status,” which means they may remain in the U.S. indefinitely, as long as they are enrolled in school and maintaining student status by taking a certain number of credit hours per semester. This allows them to change academic programs and continue to higher degree programs without the need to obtain an extension of their existing student visa.
Under new administration rules recently published, student visas would have a fixed term of up to four years, (which is shorter than the typical time it takes for a student to complete a bachelor’s degree program) requiring international students to apply to extend their student status if they desire to continue studying in the U.S. past that period.
The new restrictions also limit the initial visa term to only two years for students from Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria and those who are citizens of countries which have a 10% or higher overstay rate, including: Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and Zambia.
Rules state that extensions will only be approved “if the additional time needed is due to a compelling academic reason, documented medical illness or medical condition, or circumstance that was beyond the student’s control”.
Such draconian policies will surely result in an even lower level of international students attending colleges and universities in the U.S. and may mean an increase in fees for U.S. citizens and residents since high international student tuition rates typically keep regular tuition rates lower for homegrown students.
Sadly, this new proposal is just another sign to the world that the U.S. no longer welcomes visitors and just another message to the international community to “Keep Out” we don’t want you here. The rule could go into effect in by the end of this year, unless stopped by a federal court.
You can read the new rule by visiting our enewsletter site at: www.americanimmigrationcentral.com
** Contributions to this Column are made by Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center – Call 954-382-5378