AERA Executive Director Urges Withdrawal of ICE Proposed Rule on International Student Visas
AERA Executive Director Urges Withdrawal of ICE Proposed Rule on International Student Visas

October  2020

On October 26, AERA Executive Director Felice Levine submitted a letter in response to a proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Bureau that would impose time limits on visas for international students, foreign exchange visitors, and representatives of foreign information media in the United States. AERA strongly urged ICE to withdraw the proposed rule.

International students at U.S. universities currently do not face a fixed time limit in pursuing studies, and they generally can obtain a visa to stay in the U.S. for the time necessary to complete a degree program. The proposed ICE rule would establish processes to limit the stay of international students to two to four years; it would also revise current procedures for requesting an extension of status.

In the AERA letter, Levine emphasized the potential negative impact of the proposed rule on the free and open exchange of scientific knowledge, the rule’s disconnect with federal science agency priorities to remain competitive in STEM research and workforce development, and the undue burden that the rule would impose on international students attempting to complete doctoral programs within a four-year timeline, as compared with U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

“One of the pillars of the U.S. scientific enterprise is the open exchange of scientific knowledge,” said Levine. “Without the ability for foreign-born students to engage in postdoctoral fellowships or training after degree completion, as well as to collaborate with research partners within and outside of the U.S., open exchange of knowledge would be substantially impeded.”

The proposed rule comes after ICE issued guidance in July that would have required international students to leave the country if their universities offered online-only instruction. AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine released a statement that month urging ICE to rescind the guidance. ICE pulled the guidance later in July, and issued subsequent guidance to clarify that international students who were currently studying in the United States and attending a university offering online-only instruction could remain in the country.

RelatedAERA Executive Director Speaks Out Against ICE Guidance on International Students and University Online-Only Instruction (AERA Highlights, July 2020)

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