Thursday, September 24, 2020
DHS is proposing to impose fixed end dates on student visas, rather than allowing them to be valid for the “duration of status”. They cite national security risks. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking says comments are due to regulations.gov 30 days from publication date in the Federal Register (likely tomorrow or September 25). The proposed rule is published on the DHS website as well.
Here is the language of the proposed rule; it runs 250 pages and provides the DHS justification for the change: "the Department accordingly is concerned about the integrity of the programs and a potential for increased risk to national security. To address these issues, DHS proposes to amend its regulations by changing the admission period of F, J, and I aliens from duration of status to a fixed time period... This change would provide the Department with additional protections and mechanisms to exercise the oversight necessary to vigorously enforce our nation’s immigration laws, protect the integrity of these nonimmigrant programs, and promptly detect national security concerns."
" The NAFSA: International Association of International Educators opposes the rule, as explained in their NAFSA commentary. They say "As universities and colleges across the country work to welcome highly valued, hardworking international students and scholars to our campuses and communities, their efforts are being undermined by policies and regulations that further close our doors and pull up America’s welcome mat. Students from around the globe come here to study, research and grow in our world-class institutions because they believe that America offers freedom and the highest-quality education—and our nation has thrived because of our strength in diversity, not in spite of it. International students and scholars contributed more than $36.9 billion last year and more than 450,000 jobs to our economy. If we continue to undermine their ability to study and learn here, we devalue their contributions, and our international competitors will continue to benefit from short-sighted policies."
There have been prior proposals to replace "duration of status" with fixed years, as described here. If enacted, this proposed rule would be the latest in a series of policies restricting international students and temporary visas during the Trump Administration, including the rescinded rule to ban international students studying fully remotely and proposals to eliminate or curtail OPT (permitting one-year of work experience at the conclusion of an F-visa).