Colleges look to federal govt to ease visa control

American colleges and universities lost billions of dollars when the pandemic scattered their students and turned off new applicants…reports Asian Lite News

With the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly cutting off a steadily growing pipeline of cash for US colleges and universities from international students, higher education institutions are now looking to the White House to shore up a besieged visa process to bring those lucrative students back, a media report said.

Students from abroad often pay the full sticker price on tuition and fees, making them desirable to admit, but the cash flow halted when the pandemic closed borders, cancelled flights and shuttered buildings.

Education groups are looking at President Joe Biden to restore it.

American colleges and universities lost billions of dollars when the pandemic scattered their students and turned off new applicants, said the report.

Now, “their fall semesters are still uncertain as they don’t know yet how much international student enrolment they can get amid a Covid-rattled US bureaucracy”, it said.

“When you add in other factors of community development, they’re innovators and creators, it could be quite a disaster long term if they can’t get in,” Elizabeth Goss, a Boston-based immigration attorney who specialises in obtaining student visas, was quoted as saying by Politico.

children walking in street during covid 19 surge in us

Nearly 1.1 million foreign students attended college in the US in the 2019-2020 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education, an organisation that tracks their enrolment.

“While education groups say it’s too soon to predict what fall enrolment will look like, last fall’s 43 per cent plunge in new international student enrolment has advocates for those students concerned about the coming semester,” said the Politico news report.

A recent Moody’s analysis stated that last year’s decline in international students is likely to hurt university finances for “several years”.

Enrolment will likely rebound for the fall, but “be slowed by travel restrictions, lingering sourness from the Trump administration’s immigration policies and increased competition from other countries”, it added.

Biden has eased Trump-era travel bans and will allow students on visas to study online if campuses close for Covid-19 outbreaks, but higher education advocates are urging him to loosen restrictions around student visas to ease the process of getting to the US, the Politico news report noted.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world’s largest international education non-profit, has also asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to prioritise student and scholar visa processing, extend temporary in-person visa interview waiver eligibility and use video conferencing for required visa interviews, according to the report.

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