On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed regulation that would establish fixed end dates on student and exchange visitor visas, and many other changes. Currently, international students and scholars may stay in the United States for the duration of their program, with some PhD programs having a standard length of 7 years. At UM, 72% of Doctoral students take longer than 4 years to complete a degree. Under this proposal, individuals applying to either F or J status would be limited to a 4 year stay.
Additionally, some international students and scholars would be limited to 2 years based on certain factors, including birth or citizenship in specific countries. Students and scholars of the targeted countries are almost exclusively persons of color and are disproportionately nationals of African countries.
If individuals were to need additional time to complete their program, including requests for legal work authorization after graduation, or would like to start a new degree or academic program, they would have to pay a fee and apply for an extension of stay to the USCIS and the application could be accepted or rejected. This proposed rule creates an unwelcoming and uncertain environment for international students and scholars.
This proposed rule is open for public comments until October 26, 2020. After the DHS considers the comments, it would draft a final rule and submit that to the Office of Management and Budget for review. Only after that could a final rule be published. Litigation could temporarily or permanently stop the final rule from taking effect.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS BY OPPOSING THIS PROPOSED REGULATION?
Any member of the UM community can submit a public comment by Monday, October 26.
- International students and scholars can say how the implementation of this rule will impact them and would have impacted them if it were in place when they were making decisions about choosing a university to study, teach or do research.
- Non international students and scholars can state how they view this rule and how their university experience would change if it were implemented. For example, US citizen students would have fewer diverse perspectives in the classroom, be it fellow classmates or instructors. Research projects that rely on diverse and innovative teams of graduate students and/or international scholars would be impacted.
- UM community members who may have originally come to the US as an F or J student or scholar may wish to write a personal comment based on their story and how this rule would have changed the course of their life, perhaps away from the US completely.
- See UM’s Public Comment on Regulations.gov
Registered voters can speak out publicly against the proposed rule by contacting their representatives.
- NAFSA Resources on Proposal to Replace Duration of Status
- President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration Briefing
- Tips on how to make a public comment
HOW TO SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT:
Comments on the proposed rule must be identified by DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006, and submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. A Comment Now! button appears at the upper right corner of the proposed rule on Regulations.gov, at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DHS_FRDOC_0001-1933. Follow the website instructions to submit comments. Comments must be received by October 26, 2020. (If that link takes you to an error page on the beta.regulations.gov site, go to https://beta.regulations.gov/document/ICEB-2019-0006-0001).
The Federal Register notice states:
“Comments submitted in a manner other than the one listed above, including emails or letters sent to DHS or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, will not be considered comments on the proposed rule and may not receive a response from DHS.”
“I. Public Participation
DHS encourages all interested parties to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, comments and arguments on all aspects of this proposed rule. DHS also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this proposed rule. Under the guidelines of the Office of the Federal Register, all properly submitted comments will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov as part of the public record and will include any personal information you have provided. See the ADDRESSES section for information on how to submit comments. A. Submitting Comments
You must submit your comments in English or provide an English translation. The most helpful comments will reference a specific portion of the proposed rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority supporting the recommended change. If you submit comments, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (ICEB-2019-0006), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and materials online. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, ICE has temporarily suspended its ability to receive public comments by mail.
Instructions: To submit your comments online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Comment Now!” box and input your comment in the text box provided. Click the “Continue” box, and, if you are satisfied with your comment, follow the prompts to submit it.
DHS will post them to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary public comment submission you make to DHS. DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing that it determines is offensive. For additional information, please read the “Privacy and Security Notice,” via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov.
DHS will consider all properly submitted comments and materials received during the comment period and may change this rule based on your comments.
B. Viewing Comments and Documents
Docket: To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Open Docket Folder,” and you can click on “View Comment” or “View All” under the “Comments” section of the page. Individuals without internet access can make alternate arrangements for viewing comments and documents related to this rulemaking by contacting ICE through the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above. You may also sign up for email alerts on the online docket to be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.”
Remember that this is a proposed rule, which means that it is not law yet and does not have an effective date. It will proceed through normal APA public notice and comment procedures before any final rule is published. After the comment deadline, the agency must review all comments received, which may impact the eventual wording of the final rule. After comments have been analyzed and the proposed rule amended (if at all), the agency will send a final rule back to OMB for another review. After OMB reviews the final rule, it is sent back to the agency, which will then publish it in the Federal Register as a rule as a final rule with an effective date. If a final rule is eventually published, the final rule notice will contain an effective date. It is not until the effective date included in a future final rule notice in the Federal Register that any changes become effective. The proposed rule indicates that since this is a major rule as defined by the Congressional Review Act, “this rule, if enacted as a final rule, would be effective at least 60 days after the date on which Congress receives a report submitted by DHS under the Congressional Review Act, or 60 days after the final rule’s publication, whichever is later.”