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US: pressure to withdraw DHS proposal

Higher education providers and international education stakeholders across the US are adding pressure to overturn a rule proposing an end to the ‘duration of status’ policy, which would limit the time international students can remain in the country.

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The public – and institutions – have until October 26 to submit comments on the proposed rule

“This rule would make the US and universities… a less attractive destination for the best and the brightest”

EnglishUSA, TESOL International Association, and University and College Intensive English Programs have signed a joint statement opposing the proposal, while there are reports that House Republicans are circulating a letter to be sent to acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf expressing ‘deep concern’ about the proposed rule.

Individuals are encouraging Republicans in the House of Representatives to add their name to a House GOP sign-on letter in support of the duration of status which is being led by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

The deadline for new signatures is October 19, according to NAFSA.

“On behalf of the English language program industry and our members, our three associations believe the proposed rule to replace a decades-long, proven, and flexible policy with one that is complicated, burdensome and unnecessarily punitive to English language students will undermine the continued opportunity for reciprocal exchange between international English language learners, negatively impact international US diplomacy, and harm local US economies that benefit from these students,” EnglishUSA, TESOL International Association and CIEP said.

“If finalised, the proposed rule would not only fundamentally change all levels of F-1 study in the United States, but would especially alter the gateway period of intensive English language study, which is often the catalyst of international students’ academic careers,” they said as the urged DHS to rescind the changes.

“With no guarantee that they will be able to complete their academic path, many students will choose, as many already have, to study in other countries, causing our English language programs, community colleges, colleges, and universities to lose valuable business.

“English language programs have already cut jobs and programs to mitigate losses not only as a direct result of the Covid-19 global pandemic but also as a result of ongoing geopolitical issues and politically motivated decisions made by this administration.”

Professions, including the health and aviation industries, have also warned that the move would impact training for its students, and higher education institutions are also opposing the proposal.

The public – and institutions – have until October 26 to submit comments on the proposed rule.

“[It] will undermine the continued opportunity for reciprocal exchange between international English language learners”

Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly has condemned the proposed rule change in a resolution, with one of the resolution authors describing the DHS move as “one example of a recent trend of a series of blows that the current administration has issued against this idea”.

According to the GSA resolution, international students comprise more than one-third of the students in Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with Yale secretary and vice president for University Life Kimberly Goff-Crews describing international students as “an integral part of the Yale community,” further adding that they “belong at Yale”.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of several institutions that has called for the withdrawal of the proposed rule.

“This rule would make the US and universities like UW–Madison a less attractive destination for the best and the brightest, who we need to maintain technological leadership and develop scientific innovations,” said UW–Madison chancellor, Rebecca Blank.

“This rule also may unequally impact students from smaller countries and endanger the rich diversity and exchanges they bring to institutions in Wisconsin and across the US.”

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