New Rules From Trump DHS Could Severely Restrict Foreign Student Visas

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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A new set of rules proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement could add significant restrictions to foreign students seeking visas in the United States. 

Under the new regulations, students would only be granted visas for a set period of time of 2 or 4 years, rather than being able to stay indefinitely as long as they are meeting their admission requirements. The goal of these changes would be to “encourage program compliance, reduce fraud and enhance national security,” according to the DHS statement. (RELATED: China Calls US Decision To Block Visas For Students With Ties To Chinese Communist Party Military ‘Persecution’ And ‘Racial Discrimination’)

While many visitors would be granted a 4-year stay under the proposed rules, certain criteria would make it possible for DHS to only grant a 2-year stay instead. This would include visitors from countries with an overstay rate of over 10%, countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List, and visitors coming to a school that does not use E-Verify, according to The Hill. 

Among the countries that would qualify for only 2-year visas are Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam, per this list from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. The full list includes dozens of countries, primarily in the Middle East and Africa. Notably absent from the list is China, which the Trump administration has specifically targeted with other visa restrictions. 

Students that are only eligible for two-year visas under the new rules would be able to apply for a renewal so that they can complete a 4-year degree, per the official DHS proposal found here. However, renewal would not be guaranteed, meaning it would potentially be more uncertain whether or not students could stay long enough to complete their four-year degree than under current rules, which have no set time limit. 

This new proposal is part of the Trump administration’s long-running goal of reforming America’s visa regulations. Historical data shows that roughly 40% of illegal immigrants in America at any given time have overstayed a legal visa. 

The new DHS rules would also limit foreign information media representatives to a maximum of 240 days before needing to renew their visa, and would shorten the period allowed for international students to prepare for departure from the country to 30 days, per The Hill. DHS could also collect “routine biometrics” from all new entrants affected by the proposed changes, The Hill says.