Biden Administration Revises Regulations to Ease Entry for International Students
January 04, 2022

​In good news for international students, the Department of State announced before the holiday break that consular offices would have more flexibility in determining non-immigrant intent for F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants.

Current rules require international students applying for these visas to show "non-immigrant intent" by demonstrating that they plan to return home when they are done with their program of study. The updated guidance states that consular officers should focus on the student’s immediate intent and “keep in mind that the applicant’s intent is to be adjudicated based on present intent—not on contingencies of what might happen in the future, after a lengthy period of study in the United States.”

This guidance essentially returns the State Department to the previous guidance established by the “Rice cable,” which allows for flexibility in determining non-immigrant intent for student visas. ACE encouraged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to restore the guidance in a January 2021 community letter, writing that “you can deliver a welcoming message to current and prospective international students, which can do much to restore the U.S. as a destination of choice, as well as supporting an important economic activity as the U.S. economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Department also announced last month that it was extending flexibilities around in-person interview requirements for qualified student visa applications put in place because of the pandemic until Dec. 31, 2022.