The Washington Post reports that the Department of Homeland Security has drafted a preliminary proposal that would require international students to reapply annually for permission to study in the United States. The proposal could hamper the admission of foreign students to colleges and universities by adding additional costs, paperwork and an annual refiling of status to those seeking education in America.
In a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 12 higher education associations and organizations noted “serious concern” with the proposed changes. “When faced with up to a 400 percent increase in fees, redundant forms, and restrictive validity periods, an applicant will likely opt to pursue their studies elsewhere,” the letter reads.
It also points to the fact that global competition is increasing for international students with “countries like Canada and Germany publicly advertising their welcoming policies in an attempt to become a destination of choice. It is imperative that our country’s visa issuance procedures and duration of stay policies are efficient and streamlined, not burdensome and prohibitive.”
Across the country, international students add to a university’s global experience, but they also pay more expensive out-of-state tuition, providing considerable financial incentives to U.S. colleges and universities by helping those institutions struggling with overall funding. The letter points out that “though international students make up only five percent of postsecondary students in the country, they contributed $32 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 400,000 jobs just in the last academic year alone.”
Department of Homeland Security officials say the proposal seeks to enhance national security by closely monitoring foreign students. According to The Washington Post, some at DHS believe that student visas are too open-ended in how they allow students to transfer from one program to another. Officials say the plan is still in its initial stages and could require regulatory changes that would take a minimum of 18 months. DHS spokesman David Lapan said, “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.”