Since the 1980’s, the U.S. has implemented a temporary admission policy for foreign students (F visa), exchange visitors (J visa) and media representatives (I visa). This has been a “duration of status” policy, allowing flexibility in the duration of stay according to the terms and conditions of the temporary visas rather than according to fixed periods of time. As an example, if a student needs five years to complete a degree, this can be accommodated.
On September 25th, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies published a proposed rule entitled, “Establishing a Fixed Time Period of Admission and an Extension of Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Academic Students, Exchange Visitors, and Representatives of Foreign Information Media.” The new rule sets a four-year limitation for these visas and a two-year limit for students who originate from what appears to be an arbitrary list of 59 countries (the majority from Africa).
Among other things, if adopted the new rule would severely limit the ability of higher education to attract foreign students (not to mention impact J-1 holding physicians who are needed during the pandemic). The rationale for the rule includes the possibility that it will result in reduced fraud, abuse, and national security risks, but the document fails to meet the standards of justification required for implementation and puts numerous interests at risk not to mention significant financial losses from the loss of foreign students and scholars.
The comment period for responding to this proposed rule has expired, but I wanted to share this information with faculty senators because it will have a severe impact on higher education if it is implemented. I also want faculty senators to be aware that WSU has worked closely with UW and others to respond to this proposal, including engagement with our congressional delegation that has worked closely with representatives from other states to issue strongly worded, bipartisan objections to the proposal.
I will update this post as we learn more.