International Student

Visa Policy changes: How you can help – October 2020

tl;dr: support your international student and post-doc peers by emailing this letter to your senator, calling your senator, or submitting a comment on the proposed changes.

On September 24, 2020 DHS proposed a set of rule changes to F, J and I visa procedures. If these rules are accepted this would directly affect current and future international students and post-docs at WashU and across the United States.

SAC stands in solidarity with international and immigrant students and post-docs at Washington University. We believe that international students and scholars play an important role in scientific research and training of future scholars here at WashU and at other universities. The new set of proposed changes greatly reduce the amount of leverage Washington University has in facilitating international student and scholar activity here.

Specifically, the proposed rules are detrimental because:

  1. The rules impose a new, fixed 4-year limit on student visas (think about finishing your PhD in 4 years) as opposed to the more flexible “Duration of Stay” status in effect now. Further, students from some countries will only receive a 2-year authorization.
  2. The rules impose a requirement for resubmission after 4 years (this means more paperwork in the middle of a PhD, increased financial burden, and additional uncertainty about finishing the PhD)
  3. Increased restrictions on acceptable reasons for requesting an extension of stay.
  4. DHS can monitor student grades and reject extension of stay petitions in a more arbitrary manner. DHS has never had this type of access to international students’ academic work.
  5. Shortens the “grace period” to remain in the U.S. after program completion from 60 days to 30 days.

What can I do to help? 

  • Comment on the proposed rule changes, before October 26, by using the “Comment Now” button on the top right. Commenting is powerful because all comments have to be responded to.
  • If you are a US Citizen, we encourage you to call or email your federal representatives and ask them to oppose this recent DHS policy.
    • To see a sample script that you can email or call with see here:
    • Contact Senator Josh Hawley here
    • Contact Senator Roy Blunt here

We encourage you to share these resources with your respective colleagues and social circles.

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