Drew, your advocacy rep here! I’m sure you’ve all heard the news at this point that DHS is considering replacing the “duration of status” (or “D/S”) that is normally given to all of those who hold F-1 and J-1 status with a time limit. Eliminating the duration of status would put students and scholars at the risk of accruing unlawful presence, and give them even more reason to not feel at ease with studying or researching in the United States.
While we expect NAFSA to have more advocacy down the road, a good first step would be the following: Please forward the message below from NAFSA's Vice President for Public Policy & Practice, Bonnie Bissonette, to your federal relations officer or government affairs professional on your campus. Let him or her know that you can be a resource on this duration of status issue.
And per my previous email, don’t forget to sign up for NAFSA’s Advocacy Day! Now more than ever, we need to give our congressional representatives concrete facts on these incredibly important issues impacting both our international students and scholars, and the educational missions of our universities.
From: Bonnie Bissonette
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2018
To: Drew Webster
Subject: Administration plans time limit for int'l student visas
As you may have heard, an alarming notice came out today from the U.S. Administration about regulatory changes proposed for the coming year. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is developing a proposed rule that would fundamentally change the way students and scholars are admitted to the United States, by replacing the policy in place for decades of the duration of status (D/S) admission period with "a maximum period of authorized stay, and options for extensions, for each applicable visa category."
According to the description in the Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda that was published on October 17, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has set a Fall 2019 target date for publishing a proposed rule that solicits public comment, and so we have time to advocate against it. If finalized, it would have a significantly damaging effect on students, scholars, our institutions, and our communities. The rationale for this proposed change is based on inaccurate DHS statistics that exaggerate the number of international students who overstay their visas. At a time when the United States risks losing ground in a global competition for talent, a change of this magnitude would create uncertainty for students and scholars about whether they would be able to complete their programs in the United States, subject students to inadvertently accruing unlawful presence, and add significant unnecessary burdens on USCIS and higher education institutions, all with no added security benefit.
WE MUST UNITE IN OPPOSING THIS CHANGE!
In response, NAFSA is actively mobilizing to engage our allies on the Hill and in the higher education, business, foreign policy, and immigration communities to oppose this proposed change. As advocates, you can help!
We will be in touch through Connecting Our World with updates and will organize a conference call in the coming weeks to discuss how this will impact our field and how you can help defeat this proposal. Be sure you are signed up for action alerts at www.connectingourworld.org and add email@example.com to your contacts to avoid our messages getting trapped in your spam folder.
Also, NAFSA's regulatory practice team is monitoring the issue closely and will notify members through www.nafsa.org/reginfo when more information is available about this and other proposed changes.
Bonnie Bissonette, Ed.D.
Director, Education Abroad and International Safety
Center for Global Education Initiatives
University of Maryland, Baltimore
and Vice President for Public Policy and Practice, Board of Directors (2017-2019)
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Attn: Connecting Our World
1307 New York Ave NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
The federal government has been very busy the last few days, coming up with two major policies that will heavily impact the lives of our students and scholars.
SEVP Fee Increase Proposal
The first piece is a policy proposal that was just published this morning. This proposal would see an increase of the following fees related to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
The link also allows for you to submit a formal comment, until 09/17/2018. As always, keep them professional but be honest about the impact you feel these fee increases will have, particularly on our students and scholars, who are already burdened enough as it is.
USCIS Policy on Denials w/o RFE or NOID
The second piece is a substantial update of USCIS’s policy of issuing Requests for Evidence(RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs), scheduled to take effect on September 11, 2018. Full details can be found here.
Per USCIS, “The policy implemented in this guidance restores to the adjudicator full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or a NOID, when appropriate. This policy is intended to discourage frivolous or substantially incomplete filings used as ‘placeholder’ filings and encourage applicants, petitioners, and requestors to be diligent in collecting and submitting required evidence. “
This could mean that, if a piece of information is not included in a petition/application, a USCIS adjudicator would have full discretion to deny it without any ability for us to rectify the case. This is replacing a 2013 policy memorandum which instructed adjudicators to send an RFE/NOID unless there was “no possibility” of approval. In conjunction with the new USCIS policy on issuing Notices to Appear (NTAs) to those who appear to be out of status (thereby initiating deportation proceedings), the situation could spiral even further if they feel that the student/scholar is out of status and issue a denial and NTA, without giving them a chance to prove otherwise.
This could also lead to petitioners/applicants having to pay another fee for a new petition/application so that they can submit the form with the correct information missing in the previous one. So now, USCIS would get twice or three times the money instead of allowing us to correct the petition/application the first time around. These are of course more extreme scenarios and it will definitely be based around whom the adjudicator is. OPT applicants should be cautioned to make sure their applications are airtight and I would recommend any employment-based or green card petitions have secondary reviewers in any office that is submitting them.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions and I hope this has done these updates justice. I know it’s a lot these days, but we have to meet these challenges head on and not just throw our hands up in the air.
You may have just heard that the Supreme Court has upheld the Trump administration’s third version of its travel ban. As I’m sure there is a lot of information out there that you’re hearing, I wanted to make clear exactly what this means using the chart below. Importantly, the ban gives different restrictions on issuing visas to each country. No matter the country, there are exceptions to this ban that are listed below. Students will be affected, though mostly through enhanced screening. F, J, and M’s are not given outright denial of entry.
Exceptions to the travel ban:
Below is the full breakdown by country for each restriction:
The administration has stated that countries may be removed from the ban list by meeting certain criteria with respect to “identity-management information’, “national security and public safety information”, and “national security and public-safety risk assessment”. Those who are impacted can apply for waivers in one of the following instances:
I hope this helps and I’m sure there will be a lot of misinformation going around. This is not a legal document, of course, and you can always check with immigration attorneys to double check on this information.
“The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has put out a very helpful (and comprehensive) document on the many ways that immigration has changed since the Trump administration began in January 2017. You may find this document here: https://americanimmigrationlawyersa.app.box.com/s/s3gwp3n9mb88qxha4xsn8kx5dwhvb41i
This document is a good starting point for understanding current and possible upcoming changes which will affect both your international students and scholars, along with the U.S. immigrant population in general.”
From Katie O’Connell, Director, Advocacy and Media Outreach, NAFSA
Path for Simon Study Abroad Bill in the Senate
This week is a critical moment in NAFSA's efforts to pass the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act (S. 601). The Senate is currently drafting their version of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), and the best path forward for the Simon bill is to be included in it. You can help build support for the Simon program's inclusion in the HEA by asking your Senator to cosponsor the Simon bill now!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Have 2 minutes? Email your Senators and urge them to cosponsor the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act (S. 601).
2. Have 2 more minutes? Tweet at your Senators to urge them to cosponsor the #SimonBill and publicly show your support for study abroad.
3. Have 5 more minutes? Call your Senators to urge them to cosponsor the bill.
From Region VII:
NAFSA Advocacy Day: there’s still time to join your Fellow NAFSA's for Advocacy Day on March 19-20 in Washington, D.C.! After a day of training and strategizing, you will head to Capitol Hill to help educate Congress on how international education impacts our state and districts and why we need a more globally engaged and welcoming United States. Personal meetings will be scheduled for you with your elected officials and their staff in both the Senate and House of Republicans. As I’m sure you all know, this is an especially important time in our country to be a part of this!
Subject: DL Denials at DDS Centers in GA
Contributor: Brett Reichert, Georgia State University
Dear GAIE Colleagues who work with international students and scholars,
Update (08/23/2017): Good news. I have an update from the legal counsel for DDS regarding the DL’s renewal issue for individuals with lawful presence and expired visas. We had a positive conversation last week about some of the various federal regulatory, statutory, political and state level issues around this dilemma.
"8/21/17: Thank you for following up. We are still waiting on something official from DHS. However, until we receive the official response from Homeland Security we have authorized our DDS locations to issue to customers who present an unexpired foreign passport with a valid I-94 and document with a period of authorized duration of stay (F1, J1, I-20...) The customers still have to clear SAVE and present other required documents for residence, SSN denial, etc."
It seems like those who have been denied a DL for expired visas can now try again with the expectation of issuance. I would be interested to know if you hear of continued denials.
I wanted to send an update to my July 20th post asking for input on denials of GA driver license renewals for Georgia international students and scholars. I’ve now heard from campuses across the state, so the issue is no longer just in metro Atlanta.
Georgia Department of Driver Services
Regarding DDS’s refusal to issue DL’s through the grace period of an initial I-20 or DS-2019, and their refusal to renew DL’s during a pending OPT application that is receipted within the grace period, those are separate issue. DDS doesn’t seem to recognize or be concerned with unnecessarily stranding those customers either despite lawful presence. One way to advise on this is to recommend that OPT applicants select an employment start date the day after their program end date. That may help reduce driving woes for this population until DDS is authorized to address this harmful issue.
The past two executive orders have had a "chilling effect" on international students studying, or considering, higher education in the United States. A recent survey by AACRAO shows how institution numbers are already being impacted by the EOs.
Take action and be an advocate: Consider contacting your local representatives to a request a statement be made on the value and importance of international students in the U.S.
Advising International Students in an Age of Anxiety: U.S. Campus Responses to the Needs and Concerns of Current and Prospective Students from the MENA Region and Beyond
Kuck Immigration Partners have been working hard to enable DACA Recipients in-state tuition status.
Read more about updates here:
**please note this still does not apply to all schools and colleges in Georgia.
Contributor: Alyssa Zasada
Affiliation: University of Georgia
Topic: Study Abroad Options for Technical Colleges
The words “study abroad” and “technical colleges” are not often found in a sentence together, but that is beginning to change. Study abroad used to be viewed as a facet of four-year institutions, however, there has been an increasing focus on international education within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) as part of its mission to build a “globally competitive workforce.” [i] The following institutions have found a way to develop study abroad programs that fit the needs of TCSG students. If you are looking to establish study abroad at your institution, their programs can serve as examples and guides.
Additionaly, students at any TCSG institution can apply to participate in these study abroad trips and receive credit towards their program of study because of standardized curriculum across the state. Below I give an overview of three existing opportunities within TCSG as well as a USG program through which individuals can study abroad as transient students. All four programs remove barriers to international education, allowing technical college students in Georgia the opportunity to develop global competencies through study abroad.
Gwinnett Technical College
For several years, Gwinnett Tech has offered an annual spring break program to countries such as Spain, Italy, and Scotland. In 2017, students will have the opportunity to study abroad for two weeks or a full year at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. The two-week program will take place during the summer and will be designed around participating students’ programs of study. Estimated cost is $3,500, which includes airfare, housing on campus, most meals, ground transportation, and entrance fees to museums and sites. The year-long program is designed for TCSG students who already have an associate’s degree in computer science or business to earn a bachelor’s degree during the one year in Scotland.
For more information, contact Dr. Penny Joyner Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chattahoochee Technical College
Chattahoochee Tech offers study abroad programs to Europe, with previous locations including Spain, England, France, Italy, and Ireland. The trips range in length from 7 to 10 days and take place at various times each year, such as during spring break or at the end of a semester. They are part of semester-long courses that vary between in-person, online, and hybrid instruction. Course offerings change annually and can include 1101-level courses such as Spanish, World Literature, and Humanities. Students are required to attend three pre-departure meetings in-person or via Skype as well as participate in a garage-sale fundraiser to help defray costs for additional itinerary excursions. In 2016 the program was $2,970, which included airfare, housing, some meals, ground transportation, and entrance fees to museums and sites. Tuition and fees not included.
For more information, contact email@example.com.
Central Georgia Technical College
Central Georgia Tech runs a two-week study abroad program each July to Robert Gordon University in Scotland. The program is part of credit-bearing courses, with students on the 2016 trip being able to choose between HUMN 1101: Introduction to Humanities or MGMT 2500: Introduction to International Business Principles. Two pre-departure meetings are required, which can be attended in-person or via Skype. After the program, students must complete a writing assignment as part of their course. The program cost in 2016 was $3,400, which included airfare, housing, some meals, ground transportation, entrance fees to museums and sites, and tuition and fees for three credit hours.
For more information, contact Rick Hutto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
European Council is a consortium of the University System of Georgia (USG) offering summer study abroad programs to Germany, England, France, Spain, Scotland, Russia, and Ireland. Programs range in length from two weeks to one month and offer a wide selection of courses. All participants attend a pre-departure meeting, typically held in Macon, GA. Programs range in price from $2,995 for shorter trips to $5,500 for longer trips. Price includes airfare, housing, meal plans, ground transportation, group excursions, and health insurance. Tuition and fees not included. Students at technical colleges receive course credit as transient students through a partner USG institution or Valdosta State University.
For more information, contact Beverly Vantine at email@example.com.
This blog is to serve as a resource for those new in the International Education field and for those looking for support from likeminded professionals