Divisive U.S. proposal affecting student visas withdrawn

| Jul 9, 2021 | Visas

In another reversal of the previous U.S. administration’s approach to immigration, President Biden has chosen not to implement fixed limits on specific student visas. Last fall, the Trump administration sought to add a permanent end-date to student visas once they were issued.

The change, argued the Trump administration, was necessary to overcome fraud and improve management of the student visa program. The proposal represented a dramatic change as the U.S. has allowed international students to indefinitely remain in the U.S. without reapplying for a visa if they stayed enrolled in school. Some critics described the proposed shift as discriminatory.

Costly and perhaps discriminatory

On July 6, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security withdrew its proposal.

Under the Trump plan, a majority of international student visas were due to expire in four years. There would be no exceptions even when students required additional time to finish their degrees. The plan went further in targeting students born in many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Students from those regions would be limited to having two-year visas.

Among the groups potentially affected were the estimated 1.1 million international students in the country on F visas. The change also would have affected people with J exchange visitor visas and some I visas pertaining to foreign media.

The Department of Homeland Security disclosed that the 32,000 comments it received overwhelmingly took a negative view of the proposed change. Many of the commenters claimed the move would prove costly to the students in seeking extensions because they would have to go through the expensive reapplication process. In addition, critics claimed the proposal was discriminatory.

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