The United States has proposed a policy that will limit the length of time foreign students, exchange visitors and media can get visas to stay in the country.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in a statement on Thursday, announced the proposal that seek to restrict international students on admission in U.S. universities to a “fixed period of stay” – two years maximum.
The new proposal, which is another stricter immigration rule of the Trump Administration, is a departure from the current policy that allows student visa holders to remain in the U.S. for “as long as they maintain compliance with the terms of admission.”
The proposal comes months after a failed plan in July to strip international students of their visas if they are not required to attend some classes in person, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Under the new rule affected students would not getting four-year visas for four-year courses in the U.S and would need to apply to extend their visas beyond the limits.
However, the DHS said the rule would severely tighten the requirements for an extension. It said the rule would help prevent visa fraud, protect national security and discourage students from overstaying.
The countries targeted in the new policy are those on the U.S. “state sponsor of terrorism list” and ”students from 43 countries that visitors have overstay rate of more than 10 per cent”.
Nigeria has the largest number of students of African origin studying in the U.S. and in 2019, the DHS put Nigeria’s student overstay rate at 13.43 per cent, a little over the 10 per cent benchmark.
Most African countries are also above the 10 per cent benchmark.
“A key goal of shifting aliens in F status from D/S to admission for a fixed period is to provide pre-defined periods for immigration officers to evaluate whether a nonimmigrant has maintained his or her status,” the DHS said.
“If an immigration officer finds that an alien violated his or her status before or during an EOS adjudication and denies the EOS request, the alien generally would begin accruing unlawful presence the day after issuance of the denial.”
It also said that the proposed rule seeks to reduce instances in which ”F, J, and I nonimmigrants — mostly students and exchange visitors — unlawfully remain in the United States after their program or practical training ends.”
“Under this proposed rule, aliens who remain in the United States beyond a fixed period generally would begin accruing unlawful presence,” it said.
The proposal is open for public comment for the next month before legislation is done.