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The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021: What it Means to International Education

It is a fact that many international students look to acquire work in their host country after they graduate. This is why the immigration policies of a country have a huge bearing on the success  of recruiting international students and retaining their brain power. 


During the Trump administration, the United States government made it increasingly difficult for students from other countries to study in the United States. As such, the number of new international students (those who just came into the US for the first time) enrolled at American colleges and universities declined by 3% in 2016-2017, dropping for the first time in the 12 years.


The overall sentiment changed to something more positive when President Joe Biden took office.

Biden’s Immigration Initiatives

On Day One of President Joe Biden’s administration, he introduced his plans to reform his predecessor’s immigration policies. Among the proposals is to expand worker visas to allow more foreigners to come to the United States for jobs. 

 

A month later, this vision was formally integrated into the proposed legislation that we know now as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. 

 

Different from previous initiatives to overhaul immigration, the new legislation does not focus on amplified border enforcement. Instead, the bill adds means to process migrants legally and aims to clear employment-based visa backlogs by recalling unused visas, cutting lengthy wait times, and abolishing per-country visa caps. The bill will make it easier for graduates of US universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the country after graduation. It will also increase access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors and eliminate other roadblocks for employment-based green cards.

Employment-Based Immigration Changes

The Act would generate a pilot program for a new visa category devoted to regional economic development (10,000 visas) for individuals with employment vital to local development strategies.


Additionally, it would establish new protections for F-1 students at higher education institutions by eradicating the requirement to prove that they have a foreign residence they do not plan to abandon.

Individuals who have received doctoral degrees in STEM fields from US universities would also be exempt from annual numerical limits on employment-based visas. Also, the new legislation would increase the base number of the annual ceiling for the admission of employment-based immigrants from 140,000 to 170,000, increasing the availability of visas.

 

This legislation also aims to eradicate many of the obstacles that US tech companies have had to deal with when it comes to hiring high-skilled international workers which have pushed many of them to open firms in countries such as Canada where hiring immigrant workers is easier.

Dual Intent

The draft immigration bill includes consent for ‘dual intent’, which would mean student visa applicants no longer have to promise that they will leave the US as soon as they finish their studies. Under the present single intent requirement, 9 in 10 visa denials – about a quarter of all applications – relate to a failure to prove to officials that they solely intend to study and then leave. This is because the F-1 Student Visa is a nonimmigrant visa and so the only allowed intent is to study. Not all students want to stay in the United States after they get their degrees, but some do, and this provision would permit them to be honest about their plans.

Implications to International Enrollment

While this bill has the potential to overturn many of the past policies of the Trump administration concerning immigration, the bill still has a long way to go until it can be passed in both the Senate and the House. If passed, it will certainly help attract more international students to study in the United States. Universities and colleges will have more to offer to their target student markets apart from a high-quality education.

 

After all, the students who relocated to other countries for studies like Canada find better work and immigration opportunities.. Now that the proposed US Citizen Act of 2021 devotes a huge focus on employment-based visa benefits and aims to allow foreign students to pursue immigration goals, it will strengthen the appeal of the US as the most ideal study destination for overseas studies and the US can compete more effectively with other countries.

Based on our survey, even in this time of a pandemic, higher education professionals still deem that immigration opportunities will be the most preferred perk by international students. And so if US schools can present such benefit, these students eyeing to immigrate after studies will be drawn to pursuing education in the country. 

 

Many students look beyond the overseas education experience and by allowing them to see that the US government has put that into consideration in their policies, we will be establishing a warmer environment for students who might be the next generation leaders, company owners, and industry frontrunners.

 

The planned reforms in immigration policies will address some of the biggest concerns of international enrollees and academic institutions and I am hoping that this move will open the country to more of the world’s learners. (DR. ALEX PARNIA)

#PartnerForLife #HigherEducation #StudentRecruitment #InternationalEducation #MSM

MSM Research_President, MSM USA

President, MSM USA

Dr. Alex Parnia brings more than 35 years of experience performing a variety of successful roles at various academic institutions as a faculty member, campus Dean, Vice-President of Marketing and Enrollment, Executive Vice- President, Provost, and President. He specializes in crafting innovative and scalable solutions and matrices to enable exponential revenue increases for academic institutions. His list of commendable triumphs is never-ending and he has also created leadership programs and taught management and business courses at various academic institutions.

References:

New international student numbers decline for first time (2017, November 18). Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20171118062217138


Biden administration unveils immigration reform bill. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/biden-administration-unveils-6337900/


Fact sheet: President Biden SENDS immigration bill to Congress as part of his commitment to modernize our immigration system. (2021, January 20). Retrieved March 25, 2021, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/01/20/fact-sheet-president-biden-sends-immigration-bill-to-congress-as-part-of-his-commitment-to-modernize-our-immigration-system/


Global: Tucked into a new immigration bill, big changes for international students. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://www.chronicle.com/newsletter/global/2021-03-03


Shear, M. (2021, March 08). Biden’s immigration plan would Offer path to citizenship for millions. Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/02/18/us/joe-biden-news


US: New immigration bill will allow dual intent for int’l students. (n.d.) Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://thepienews.com/news/us-new-immigration-bill-will-allow-dual-intent-for-intl-students/

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