International students are great contributors to the U.S economy and many local communities. Currently, more than a million foreign students are receiving their higher education in hundreds of colleges in the United States. In the academic year, 2017-18, international students were credited for contributing a large sum of about $39 billion to the U.S economy and were supporters of more than 400,000 jobs. Their monetary contributions are significantly important as they aid the U.S native students-who contribute substantially less-in acquiring top quality resources and also benefit the economy as a whole.
Policies and regulations for these students and their visa applications had undoubtedly been strict under Barrack Obama's administration, but they did not advocate unfair treatment or injustice. On the other hand, Donald Trump's hardline policies are not only unfair, but seem somewhat illogical. His immigration policies, in addition to halting illegal immigration, aim to attack the immigrants who wish to study and work legally in the U.S.
What are the new policies for international students?
Firstly, the USCIS has given the adjudicator the authority to deny a student's application for an F-1 student visa in cases where complete information or documents aren't available. They are required to do so without even issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or providing the student with reasons for rejection.
Secondly, there are chances for a previously proposed rule to be published and acted upon in 2019-20. The potential rule will work on the replacement of the currently ongoing 'duration-of-status' for foreign students with a 'maximum-period-of-authorized-stay'.
Thirdly, the regulatory agenda of the Department of Health and Security plans to enact restrictions or bans on OPT (Optional Practical Training) for students in fields of STEM.
How are these policies affecting potential international students?
The anxiousness of potential students over the new restrictive approach can be reflected in the declining numbers of applications received and enrollments processed in universities for the two past consecutive years-2017 and 2018. A fall of 4% was observed in the application count for students applying to graduate schools in the fall semester, 2018, while a 2% decline was seen in 2017. Although, labeling this two year streak as a trend won’t be justified, it still is a cause for concern. It shows how harsh policies are influencing America’s ‘positive’ image as a nation that welcomes and accepts all.
The greatest numbers of immigrant students sending in application to universities in the United States come from India and China. However, applications flowing in from India suffered a 12% decrease, but those from China remained somewhat steady. The latter is subjected to worsen because some prominent official members of the Trump Administration, including Stephen Miller, have been persuading the President to place a ban on Chinese students.
The extremely mentally exhausting, nightmare of an application process for acquiring U.S student visas, particularly the most popular F-1 visa, is discouraging and demotivating foreign-borns from even applying to U.S universities and colleges. Instead, while discussing their cases with immigrant lawyers, it has been reported that these students ask about Canada being a more successful option for them. They now look for other countries as backup plans; countries that will show acceptance and give them relief instead of signing them up for a stressful roller coaster ride.