GSC issues statement against DHS’s proposed student visa policies

GSC statement writes that DHS proposal comes ‘without evidence of substantial national security concerns’

The MIT Graduate Student Council (GSC), along with 59 other student governments, submitted a statement Oct. 26 opposing a rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would limit the duration of student visas.

The GSC statement calls on the DHS to “rescind this proposed rule and consider the impacts that even suggesting such a rule can have on international scholars’ view” of the U.S.

The proposed rule, published Sept. 25, states that it would amend DHS regulations “by changing the admission period of F, J, and I aliens from duration of status to an admission for a fixed time period.”

Under the current “duration of status” rule, foreign nationals in the U.S. with student visas are “admitted into the United States for the period of time that they are complying with the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant category.”

The proposed rule states that its new policy would require most students to be “shifted to a fixed period of admission of [four years] or less.” Students needing to stay in the U.S. longer “would need to apply for an [Extension of Stay] before the [four-year] maximum period of stay expires.”

The proposed rule writes that it addresses the “potential for increased risk to national security” posed by “foreign adversaries who seek to exploit” the current visa programs.

The GSC statement writes that the DHS rule comes “without evidence of substantial national security concerns.” It adds that the proposed rule “will be detrimental to national interests across the education, scientific, economic, and defense sectors, while not sufficiently addressing the national security concerns it claims to be solving.”

The GSC statement writes that “most doctoral degrees take over [six years/ to complete and the average undergraduate enrollment time is 5.1 years,” both longer than the proposed four-year period of stay.

In an email to The Tech, Michael Austin DeMarco G shared a quote by an international student pursuing a PhD at MIT stating that four years is “unrealistic for a PhD student. I came here to learn and to contribute, but what I see makes me feel really unwelcomed.”

DeMarco wrote that the GSC statement “stresses that international students are valuable members of our community, not just on college campuses, but across the nation as a whole.”

DeMarco also mentioned past instances of MIT working on behalf of international students, specifically “efforts to protect the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and help overturn the July 6th Directive from ICE.”