The President of Harvard University Lawrence S. Bacow in a letter on December 14 has urged President-elect Joe Biden to prioritise the consideration of overseas students and scholars while proposing a number of immigration policy changes.
Bacow further asked Biden to act without delay on issuing guidance to allow international students who are enrolled in full-time programmes at Harvard in order to maintain or get student visas even if classes are conducted online. He also asked Biden to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme.
Bacow wrote that it is significant that the US colleges and universities do not become isolated from the events happening outside of the country to ensure its position as a world leader. The current immigration system does not encourage and recognise the significance of the influx of immigrants to the US.
At present, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement allows only previously-enrolled international students to stay in the US while attending classes online.
In recent months, Bacow has also persuaded at least four Congress members to ask for further flexibility for international students who are forced to take online classes in view of the pandemic.
He further wrote that such a policy will let schools give more priority to keep the community safe and reduce the disruptions to the academic progress of both domestic and international students who have had to deal with restricted and unreliable internet connection and different time zones during the Fall semester.
Harvard and MIT had earlier sued the authorities of the federal administration to reverse a policy that restricted international students attending only online courses from staying in the US. Following this, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security revoked the policy.
Bacow also wrote that he welcomes Biden’s plan to do away with the travel ban of immigrants from several countries with mostly Muslim population, introduced by the Trump administration.
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