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US: DHS rumoured to back annual student visa renewals

NAFSA has urged DHS to consult with it and other industry stakeholders "before making any rash decisions that can have potentially irreversible consequences", said Jill Welch, NAFSA deputy executive director for public policy. Photo: flickr/nsub1

SEVIS figures show there are 1.18 million international students studying in the US

The plan is in the preliminary stages, officials reportedly said, but it is being contemplated in order to strengthen national security.

DHS has not officially confirmed the specific changes are being discussed, but spokesperson David Lapan said in a statement that international student visas is one area the department is looking at.

“This appears to be a duplicative and unnecessary process that would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on our nation’s competitiveness”

“DHS is exploring a variety of measures that would ensure that our immigration programs — including programs for international students studying in the United States — operate in a manner that promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system,” he said.

Lapan declined to comment further to The PIE News.

Jill Welch, deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA, said that while she hasn’t seen details of a draft DHS proposal, the suggestion of this kind “would have grave consequences for our national security, foreign policy and economic interests, as well as America’s scientific and innovative strength.”

“As reported, this appears to be a duplicative and unnecessary process that would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on our nation’s competitiveness,” she said.

NAFSA urged DHS to consult with it and other industry stakeholders “before making any rash decisions that can have potentially irreversible consequences”, she added.

This is not the first time that international students would face the brunt of immigration changes since President Trump’s election in November last year.

A number of international students and university faculty were affected by the initial implementation of two executive orders announced at the start of the year, limiting travel from several mostly Muslim countries.

Brett Bruen, president of the consulting firm Global Situation Room, who served as a former US diplomat and director of global engagement at the White House, said that US higher education has endured a tough six months.

“Subjecting foreign students to intrusive and unnecessary annual checks will only further dissuade them from choosing the United States,” he told The PIE News.

And a policy which entails international students to reapply for permission to stay each year would also require a significant amount of resources, Bruen added.

“This would likely raise the cost of student visas”

“This would likely raise the cost of student visas and take away valuable assets from other national security imperatives,” he said.

The latest figures from SEVIS show that as of May this year, there were 1.18 million international students studying in the US.

This number has been steadily on the rise, up 2% on the previous year.

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