Higher Education Associations Urge Action for International Students to Return to Campus

June 15, 2021

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

The American Council on Education (ACE) and a group of higher education associations sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging them to take immediate action to allow international students to return to their campuses and institutions in the fall semester. “Given the processing time for visas, we believe there are actions that need to be taken now to allow enough time for processing and for international students to make plans to travel to the United States safely.” The associations ask for timely and efficient processing of visa applications and work authorizations, including optional practical training, among other measures.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators, sent a separate letter to Secretary Blinken, noting among other things that over the past four years, the United States “lost international students to competitors like Canada, Australia and even China.”

The ACE letter notes a 43 percent decline in new international student enrollment at U.S. institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a decline in the overall economic impact generated by international students of $1.8 billion during the 2019-2020 academic year from $40.5 billion in the prior year. There were approximately 1.1 million international students in the United States in the 2019-2020 academic year.