The US Department of State has updated its guidelines for consular officers who approve study visas for prospective international students in respect to “intent to depart” – a move that stakeholders have applauded and believe will assist international students seeking to study in the United States.
Officers should only be concerned with “present intent to depart” the US following the completion of the program, according to the new Residence Abroad Guidance, and are not required to inquire for ties of property, job, or continuity of life, which are expected of short-term visa applicants. In addition, the US has announced that visa interview waivers for overseas students and scholars will be extended through the end of 2022.
“We are pleased that the Foreign Affairs Manual’s language instructing consular officers to consider the ‘inherent difference’ between a young F-1 visa applicant and a more established short-term visa applicant has been restored,” said Jill Allen Murray, NAFSA’s deputy executive director of public policy.
“One of NAFSA’s primary suggestions to the Department of State was to restore these important distinctions to the residence abroad requirement for F students.” This move assures that the ordinary F-1 visa applicant will not be penalised for lacking the ‘ties of property, employment, and continuity of existence’ that short-term visa applicants, such as B tourists, are expected to possess, and that these conditions will be viewed in their correct context.”
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, according to its executive director, Miriam Feldblum, has long advocated for the State Department to revise the consular guidance.
“We appreciate the Biden administration and the State Department for returning to a sensible residence abroad policy that clarifies international students’ unique circumstances when applying for visas to study in the United States and will help US colleges and universities welcome top talent from around the world,” she said.
“This is a critical step in reviving international student mobility,” says the author.
Allen Murray, however, clarified that the decision does not change the need that F student visa applicants demonstrate non-immigrant intent when applying for a visa.
“A change in the legislation – in the Immigration and Nationality Act – is required to allow F international student visa applicants to have and express a desire to remain in the United States permanently,” she explained. She pointed out that the US Citizenship Act of 2021, which would offer dual intent to F-1 students and was proposed in mid-February 2021, is now delayed in Congress.
Allen Murray remarked, “The FAM adjustment is a welcome recognition of the realities of international student experiences.”
“NAFSA continues to advocate for critical reforms that will improve international students’ experiences in the United States and the ability of US higher education institutions to recruit and retain them, such as extending dual intent to F-1 students and creating a pathway to a green card for international student graduates,” says the organization.
NAFSA advised that the Department of Homeland Security remove a proposed rule amending the term of status policy from its regulatory agenda in spring 2021.
“We’re also urging the Biden administration to develop a comprehensive national plan for foreign education, overseen by a White House coordinating council, that includes these and other measures,” Allen Murray added.
News Source: The PIE News
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