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US colleges move court against policy that hits int’l student visa

October 26, 2018 05:56 AM

COURTESY TOI OCT 26

US colleges move court against policy that hits int’l student visa
Lubna.Kably @timesgroup.com

Mumbai:

A group of educational institutions in the United States, including The New School — a New York-based private research university with one of the highest proportions of international students — has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a recent policy change that adversely impacts these students. Under this policy, international students, for no fault of theirs, could find themselves barred from entering the US for three to 10 years.


The change announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that came into force from August 9 means international students automatically begin to accrue “unlawful presence” in the US, the day after they violate their “student status” even if their granted tenure of stay has not expired. TOI had analysed the impact of this policy change in its edition of August 11.

‘New visa policy to hit US institutes financially’

Referring to the earlier policy, the petition (technically referred to as complaint) filed with a US district court states that it was objective. If required, individuals could leave the US within 180 days and avoid imposition of a three-or 10-year re-entry bar.

“The new policy’s use of a backdated unlawful-presence clock will render tens of thousands of F, J and M visa holders subject to three-and 10-year re-entry bars without any opportunity to cure,” the petition says. It states the new policy financially harms US educational institutions in terms of lost tuition dollars.

Under the new policy, the unlawful presence clock is turned back to the date on which the international student first fell “out of status”. The repercussions are extreme, especially for a student who may have unknowingly violated his/her status earlier. If this is discovered later, the student could find himself/herself barred from entering the US. Their studies could be disrupted or if he or she intends to work in the US post-studies, this opportunity is lost. An individual who accrues more than 180 days of unlawful presence can be barred from reentry for three years. An individual unlawfully present in the US for more than a year is barred for 10 years.

Even a simple failure to update the designated school officer (DSO) of a change in address or a clerical error by the DSO in entering information into the SEVIS system (database for foreign students) such as additional hours of on-site campus work beyond those permissible can result in a student being regarded as “out of status”. After the Chinese, Indians constitute a significant portion of international students in the US

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