Joint Statement Release (10/13/2020)
EnglishUSA has teamed up with TESOL International Association and UCIEP to prepare a Joint Statement speaking out against the proposed rule issued by DHS on 9/25/2020: Establishing a Fixed Time Period of Admission and an Extension of Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Academic Students, Exchange Visitors, and Representatives of Foreign Information Media.
This joint statement will be released to our members, strategic partners, stakeholders and will be submitted on behalf of EnglishUSA to the Federal Register.
However, the future of our industry sits on the collective action of individual members. You need to submit a letter to the Federal Register by October 26, 2020. Please see the language in the Joint Statement and also the advice below.
Also, be sure to thank your Member of Congress if he/she/they supported the Dear Colleague and Judiciary Committee letters that were distributed the week of October 5th.
Deadline: October 26, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a proposal to eliminate duration of status for F-1 visas issued to international students, to limit the total duration of English language study to just two years, and to limit visa validity for all programs to four years. Students wishing to extend their studies would need to apply to USCIS for an extension and be approved prior to continuing their studies. You can find the proposal here. It is 73 pages long, so you may not want to read the whole thing.
This proposal will negatively impact postsecondary English language programs and students who want to come to the U.S. to study English. Therefore it is vital that as many of us as possible submit a comment to the Department of Homeland Security to state our opposition. The period for making comments ends on October 26.
Some of you may be getting reminders from your institutions/programs during this period of active advocacy, reminding you of limitations and prohibitions on political activity when such activity uses institution/company resources or is tied to employment. Please be aware that this most likely does NOT prohibit you from submitting comments to the Federal Register or contacting your Members of Congress as an individual and as a constituent. Be sure to submit using a personal vs. work email address and complete such communication on your own time.
Go here to submit a comment
NOTE: TESOL has also set up a site to assist in submitting comments!
Reread the Joint Statement and to personalize your submissions, include any or all of the following points in your comment. Rather than copy and paste, try to write in your own voice and style. Personal stories are a good way to do this! The Department of Homeland Security is required to read all submitted comments.
● State that you are opposed to the proposal in its entirety and ask that it be withdrawn.
● If you are comfortable, saying something about your program. If you have students who advance to degree programs in the U.S., mention that.
● English language programs in the U.S. offer students the best means of improving their English through intensive class schedules, cultural and linguistic immersion, and accredited curricula.
● Many students come to the U.S. to study English before moving into a degree program. The four-year maximum limit on F-1 validity puts a bureaucratic hurdle in the way of their academic plans.
● The two-year, lifetime aggregate limit on English language study (including breaks and annual vacations) is arbitrary. Many students have valid reasons for needing more than two years to improve their English, especially to a level at which they are ready for university studies. Discuss stories of students you know who would have been hurt by this rule.
● The current extension-of-stay process conducted by institutional administrators and DSOs is appropriate for managing students’ academic transitions. A required application to USCIS for extension would insert uncertainty into students’ plans and would most likely drive students to other countries that offer greater certainty of being able to complete their studies.
● USCIS is not equipped to handle large numbers of extension requests. Students would have no guarantee that they would receive a decision from USCIS before their I-20 expiration date.
● Implementing the rule would have significant economic effects on your program possibly including additional advising, system alterations, potential changes to curriculum, and lost tuition revenue.
● Finish by reiterating your opposition to the proposal and your appeal for it to be withdrawn in its entirety.