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International Student Policies: A Failing Grade for the United States

By USCRI July 20, 2020

Amid the chaos of the pandemic, the Administration has systematically pushed the walls in on the immigration space, even for those seeking a temporary stay in the United States. These bans include those placed on skilled foreign employees in the H-1B, J, and L visa categories, as well as temporary visitors in the B-1 and B-2 visa categories.1 Yet, these bans only affected applicants and not those already within the United States. However, in early July, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the newest crackdown on immigrants, this time targeting both students seeking to come to the United States to study, and those already in the country at a time where many college campuses have been forced to operate fully virtually in order to protect against COVID-19. Under the policy, students would not be able to remain in the country if they were taking a full online course load. In particular, the DHS announcement stated that, Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.2 The message was clear: students must pick between protecting their lives and health and continuing their course of study. Outraged, several universities sued the administration, including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).3 In response, the Administration reversed its policy; a rare move. Yet, the introduction of the policy in and of itself represents a longstanding standard of inhospitable conditions for students who seek to continue their academic careers in the United States. The United States is one of the most difficult countries in the world to permanently immigrate to post-graduation, despite having been a student at an American university. In this paper, we explore the different approaches countries around the world have taken toward students, their ability to immigrate to the country where they studied post-graduation, and how the United States measures in the international community.

Read the full report 7_20_20_Brief_StudentImmigration


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