ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask Congress for Aid, Visa Policies to Support Afghan Students and Scholars
September 27, 2021

​ACE and 40 other higher education groups sent a letter to Congress last week requesting funding along with specific visa policies to support displaced Afghan students and scholars.

Many U.S. colleges and universities have been doing what they can to help—raising scholarship funds for displaced students, placing scholars in graduate programs, and developing creative options for students seeking to transfer credits from Afghan institutions who may have destroyed their records. The associations are asking lawmakers to do what they can to streamline this work.

The House approved legislation Sept. 20 to keep the government funded through early December and raise the debt ceiling that included $6.3 billion in emergency aid for Afghan refugees. It is unclear at this point what the Senate plans to do.

The higher ed groups are advocating for aid specifically targeted toward students and scholars, as well as funding for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the State Department to process the influx of Afghan visas and green card applications and for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help displaced scholars previously on USAID grants.

The visa policies the groups are requesting include:

  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to designate Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure.
  • Removing the non-immigrant intent for F-1, M-1, and J-1 student and scholar visa programs for Afghan students. If non-immigrant intent cannot be removed, the requirement should be satisfied by an intent to return when conditions in Afghanistan are normalized or to return to a third country.
  • Requiring USCIS to waive the current rules around off-campus work for Afghanistan student visa holders by announcing special student relief for Afghan students in F and J status.

To help support the higher education community’s work to help Afghan students and scholars, see the Institute for International Education’s Crisis Response page.