Trump Administration Proposal to Tighten Requirements for International Students

Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are considering a proposal that would require foreign students to reapply annually for permission to stay in the United States. The controversial move would create new costs and paperwork for thousands of visa holders from China, India, and other nations, according to two federal officials with direct knowledge of the discussions, The Washington Post reported.

The officials caution that the plan is preliminary and would require regulatory changes that could take a minimum of 18 months. The proposal could also require agreement from the State Department, which issues visas abroad. Officials say the proposal seeks to enhance national security by more closely monitoring the students. According to the Post, some at DHS are concerned that student visas, which allow students to transfer from one program to another and to switch degree levels, are too open-ended.

The agency is also considering other measures, including applying end dates to students' study programs that would force them to reapply to stay in the United States if they moved between programs or institutions, such as between undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can typically remain in the United States on a single visa as long as they are enrolled in college and follow the rules.

The potential changes are emerging at a time when foreign student enrollment has reached a historic high in the United States and is injecting billions of dollars into the economy, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), the Post reported. It also comes as the Trump administration is working to tighten screening for foreign visitors and implement a travel ban on certain citizens from six Muslim-majority countries.

DHS spokesman David Lapan declined to comment on the specifics of the discussions Friday but confirmed that the international student program is one of many under review.

"DHS is exploring a variety of measures that would ensure that our immigration programs—including programs for international students studying in the United States—operate in a manner that promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system," he said.


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