“Overseas students would face close scrutiny under proposal floated at DHS”

7/13/2017
The Washington Post


“Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security are floating a proposal that would require foreign students to reapply for permission to stay in the United States every year, a controversial move that would create new costs and paperwork for thousands of visa holders from China, India and other nations, according to two federal officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.

“Officials caution that the plan is in the preliminary stages and would require regulatory changes that could take a minimum of 18 months. The plan may also require agreement from the State Department, which issues visas. 

“…The discussions are emerging at a time when foreign student enrollment has reached a historic high in the United States and is injecting billions of dollars into the economy…

“…It also comes as the Trump administration is working to tighten screening for foreign visitors and implement a travel ban on certain citizens from six Muslim-majority countries.

“…‘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,’ [DHS spokesman David Lapan] said.

“…Though the State Department issues student visas, DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency plays a key role in overseeing them through its Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

“That program coordinates with colleges and universities so that school administrators vouch for the foreign students attending their schools. Students are charged a one-time fee of about $200 for that program, but under the changes being discussed, such fees would be charged every year, according to officials familiar with the conversations.

“Officials are also considering attaching definitive end dates to students’ study programs that would require them to reapply for permission to stay in the United States if they move from one program to another…

“…Under current federal regulations, foreign students’ immigration status in the United States is valid as long as they are enrolled in school and follow the rules. Students can transfer from one educational institution to another and many stay in this country for years without having to reapply for permission.

“…The changes could lead to fewer foreign students coming to the United States and greater administrative costs for the schools to keep their students’ paperwork up to date, according to people familiar with the discussions.”

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