State Department Announces Major Shakeup to Student Visa Policy for Foreign Graduate Students

Jun 22, 2018

In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration hearing on “Student Visa Integrity: Protecting Educational Opportunity and National Security” senior Department of State officials confirmed a change to student visas, which would notably affect Chinese graduate students. The revised policy cuts down on the duration of the visa for students looking to study aviation, robotics and advanced manufacturing from five years to one year. “For decades, doing their [Chinese graduate students] graduate work in the U.S. was a no-brainer,” explained University of Illinois in Champaign’s graduate dean Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko. “But now, they have to decide if they really want to come here.”

This new policy allows students who receive a visa to remain in the United States for the duration of their academic program. However, if they leave the country for any reason after a year of study— such as to go home, or attend an academic conference—they would need to reapply for their visa before they would be permitted to return. The administration explains that these new student visa restrictions are in response to China’s strong efforts to acquire foreign technologies, triggering debate over whether universities are doing enough to bolster national security. As Subcommittee Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) explained to Science, a large number of universities “don’t prioritize national security concerns.” In this vein, scientists are generally more “focused on attracting good students and just doing their research.”

To view the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration hearing, click here:

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