Foreign students coming to the United States on an F1 visa to study may have their stay limited because of a new rule.
Previously, foreign students admitted to the United States may stay for the duration of their studies without additional approval, provided they abide by the rules. By comparison, the new rule would force foreign students to seek additional approvals to remain in the United States for the duration of their studies.
Those affected will most likely have to seek permission on a periodic basis to remain in the United States. This will make foreign students vulnerable to denials of their applications to extend their student visas. The source for this new restriction would be a new regulation aimed at establishing a “maximum period of authorized stay for students.”
Lawsuits have been filed in efforts to stop the new rule. Arguing that the regulation violates the notice and comment requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); which requires regulatory changes to be noticed to the public so that they can provide feedback.
In response, the new rule has been scheduled to be published sometime on February 2020.
Under the new rule, foreign students would need to seek permission to stay in the United States if their academic programs take longer than anticipated if their enrollment drops to less than full-time, and for the transition time between undergraduate and graduate school.
This could require that foreign students to return to their country of origin while their application is being processed, or risk being unlawfully present if they decide to stay in the United States.
What could happen?
This could complicate things for those who would need to file for an extension of their student visa (I-539) as processing times can take up to 11 months for in some states. For example, in many cases students in undergraduate studies will have trouble figuring out their immigration statuses when transitioning from one school to another, from undergraduate to graduate studies, or from school to employment in the U.S.
Some students have opted for hiring immigration attorneys to help them with their cases, while others have decided not to study in the United States, or to study elsewhere. International students in the United States have dropped significantly from the 2015-16 academic year when compared to the 2018-19 academic year, a total of 10%.
Educational institutions in the U.S. have an excellent reputation.
In addition, the U.S. has many educational institutions of higher learning. Many of the brightest students in the world have chosen to study in the U.S. They pay foreign tuition, which is normally much higher than local tuition. Promising students from foreign countries can easily choose other prominent universities around the world if the U.S. implements regulations that cause confusion and uncertainty.
What to do?
If you are an international student, focus on the long-term goals of your studies in the United States. Discuss with your school administrator any new rules so you can plan ahead.
Do you own a business? Are you married to a U.S. Citizen? Do you have any U.S. Citizen relatives? Or Have you already found lawful employment in the U.S.? If so, act quickly to adjust your status from a student visa to one that will allow you to remain in the United States.