Attention Graduate and Professional Students:
The ability of our international students to complete their education is under threat by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We need your help to oppose proposed rule changes that will hurt both our international colleagues as well as our university.
On September 25th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule to eliminate duration of status for certain non-immigrant education visas, including for students, exchange students, and international scholars. The duration of status determines how long an international student or scholar may legally remain in the US, which is currently determined at the discretion of the student or visiting scholar’s sponsoring institutions. Under the proposed change, the DHS would introduce a fixed period admission with provisions for extension of stay, limiting visa durations to 2- or 4-year periods. The impact of this policy on international students would increase barriers to pursuing higher education in the US and is especially impactful on students pursuing doctoral programs whose length to degree completion is typically greater than 4 years.
Additionally, the rule will disproportionately affect students from countries with high rates of visa overstays by imposing a 2-year duration limit. This means that students from selected countries, mostly in Africa and to a lesser extent in Asia, will be impacted by this provision of the policy despite making up only a small percentage of visa overstays. This is another example of the current administration’s efforts to ban immigration based on country of origin and unfairly punishes students who are pursuing study in the US.
This policy reinforces the international perception that the U.S. is an increasingly difficult place to pursue higher education. In recent years, international student enrollment at US institutions has been declining. If this new rule is implemented, this will effectively discourage international students from applying to graduate programs and the visa application process.
Currently, this rule is in the proposal stage and will accept public written comments, on the Federal Register, until October 26th. We encourage you, as graduate and professional students at UNC, to leave comments opposing this proposed policy. You can submit formal comments to DHS here. See below for a template you can use to leave a comment. The GPSF stands with and supports our international colleagues and believes that this proposal will not serve international students nor the interests of UNC. If you are interested in learning more about the proposed ruling, follow these links:
Read the full proposal from the DHS here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-09-25/pdf/2020-20845.pdf.
A summary of the potential impacts from Inside Higher Ed
NAFSA brief on current duration of stay policy:
Template to submit a comment:
I am in my [year of study] year of study as a [graduate/professional] student at UNC Chapel Hill in the [insert department or school here]. This proposed rule is harmful to my community as it unfairly impacts international students pursuing study in the US and North Carolina. The proposed fixed-periods for student visa duration are not sufficient for most graduate and professional programs of study, especially for doctoral students. International students and UNC are valued members of our campus community, the state of North Carolina, and United States. This policy will effectively discourage students from applying to and attending UNC for their graduate studies. Additionally, this policy reduces students’ certainty about their place at UNC and in the US, in a time where international student enrollment is already declining. I strongly oppose this proposed rule and urge the DHS to withdraw it from consideration.
We encourage you to personalize the above template to express your feelings regarding this proposed policy.