ACE, Other Groups Highlight Importance of International Students as Agencies Respond to Trump’s Immigration Order
May 04, 2020

ACE and 62 other associations have offered to assist the departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and State in the review of non-immigrant programs mandated by President Trump's recent executive order on immigration.

The “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market during the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak" instructs the secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to review non-immigrant programs and recommend other measures to stimulate the U.S. economy and prioritize the hiring and employment of U.S. workers.

In a letter sent to the three agencies April 30, the associations outline the role international students play in the U.S. economy and their contributions to education and research, as well as some of the issues these students and colleges and universities will likely be facing in the fall. U.S. consulates currently are closed, and it is unknown at this point whether they will be open in time to complete interviews and process visa applications for international students seeking to begin their studies for the fall 2020 semester.

The groups urged the Secretary of State to prioritize applications for student visas once the consulates re-open. They also requested that State and DHS extend regulatory flexibility for international students to begin their studies online if campuses are unable to open in the fall or student visas are delayed.

In remarks last week to Fox News, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said he expected Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) would be examined as part of the review. He also referenced recent remarks by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) that Chinese students should not be allowed to study in the STEM fields, and that the review would touch on visas used by Chinese students. 

DHS Issues Additional Guidance and Discusses OPT

On a related note, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week released updated guidance for international students, including answers to some questions going into summer and possibly fall. For example, the guidance states that if students do not want to enroll or are unable to take a full course load of online courses, they will need to take a temporary leave of absence until they can resume their studies.

The guidance also notes that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is currently evaluating OPT and may issue additional guidance.  

​COVID-19 Policy Developments

Learn more about the higher education association effort to urge Congress and the administration to craft a comprehensive response that addresses the challenges students and campuses are facing.

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