Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined 16 of their colleagues in signing a letter urging U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director (USCIS) Francis Cissna to rescind a policy change that would unnecessarily target international students who inadvertently violate the terms of their visas. Many students don’t know they are in violation of the terms, but under this new rule students could still be barred from re-entering the United States for up to 10 years. Inadvertent violations will now be treated as unlawful from the moment the violation occurred.
According to the letter “individuals on student visas would immediately begin accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. if they left school or worked without authorization, even if they were never notified of the violation by USCIS or an immigration judge.”
The letter highlights the benefits of international students to higher education and the larger community. The letter states “Colleges and universities in the United States compete with the world to attract the best and brightest international students. In turn, these students enrich our higher education institutions and benefit our economy and communities…
”Through their spending in our communities, international students directly contribute to the economy of the United States while attending school. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, more than one million international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $36.9 billion to our economy and supported more than 450,000 jobs during the 2016-17 academic year…the change to the accrual of unlawful presences policy jeopardizes these economic benefits…(and) would unnecessarily punish minor or technical violations of immigration status by students, scholars and exchange visitors who become confused by our complex immigration and academic systems.”
USCIS said in August it would offer a grace period for certain international students on expiring F, M or J visas before their overstay would be counted against them.
The Open Doors: Report on International Educational Exchange released Nov 13, 2018 indicates the state of Oregon has 12,580 international students with an economic impact of $462,929,155. According to the report, 3,267 international students are enrolled at the University of Oregon.