Urging to make the United States the best study destination once again for international students and scholars, Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education (ACE) has written to the US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on behalf of 43 university associations in the US.
Mitchell said that to achieve the goal, the Biden administration must withdraw the limit on an international student’s duration of status along with the fixed duration of admission. In relation to this, he went on to say that there is no evidence that issues raised by the Trump administration regarding this cannot be addressed by the current Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Also, the amount of time currently proposed is less than the average time required to complete a programme, which is not fair to international students.
Secondly, he has requested Biden and Harris to withdraw the proposed rule that makes it more difficult for foreign nationals to obtain H-1B visas. Imposed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor, these interim final rules were not even allowed any scope for public discussion. Higher education committees have also opposed these proposed rules, to block which two lawsuits have been filed.
The proposed rule will also introduce subject caps which will further make it difficult for foreign students graduating US higher education institutions to receive H-1B visas.
The third asked that Mitchell has asked the Biden administration to move to is to make it clear that the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme will not change, as indicated by the Trump administration. This made international students reluctant to enrol in post-secondary programmes in the US.
Mitchell added that these steps “could and should” be taken forward quickly as the Biden administration would be sworn in in January.
Around 450,000 undocumented immigrants in the US are college students and are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme. Mitchell, referring to that, said that ACE has welcomed Biden’s announcement that he will restore the DACA protections revoked by the Trump administration.
Mitchell also urged for the withdrawal of the eligibility criteria of higher education students for student aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act. He argued that this rule restricts the effectiveness of such aid and contradicts congressional intent.
He further asked the Biden administration to rewrite the rules that make sure that financial aid eligibility is limited to only quality programmes.