The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday announced a proposed rule to fix the period of stay for international students, exchange visitors and foreign journalists to “encourage program compliance and enhance national security.”
According to an official statement issued by the DHS, “the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 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, proposes to remove the duration of status framework that currently allows aliens in F, J and I classifications to remain in the United States for as long as they maintain compliance with the terms of admission.”
“This effort would create a fixed time period of admission for certain aliens, consistent with most other temporary visa classifications, while still allowing these aliens an opportunity to legally extend their stay or re-apply for admission where appropriate,” said Ken Cuccinelli, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary.
“Amending the relevant regulations is critical in improving program oversight mechanisms; preventing foreign adversaries from exploiting the country’s education environment; and properly enforcing and strengthening US immigration laws,” Cuccinelli added.
Under the proposed rule, the F or J nonimmigrants would be admitted into the United States for a period up to the end date of their program, not to exceed four years, unless DHS determines that the nonimmigrant is subject to a shorter period of authorised stay limited to two years.
“Aliens from countries associated with high visa overstay rates (rates greater than 10 per cent for student and exchange visitors) will be limited to up to a two-year fixed period of stay to increase monitoring, deter immigration violations and incentivise timely departure,” read the statement.
DHS further said, “Additional factors that may trigger a two-year period of authorised stay include an alien’s birth or citizenship from a country on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list; whether a school or program sponsor is an E-Verify participant in good standing; and, for F nonimmigrants, whether a school is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education. Lawfully present F or J nonimmigrants who were admitted for duration of status will automatically have their stay extended up to the program end date, not to exceed four years, once the final rule is effective.”
DHS has proposed initially admitting most I non-immigrants for a period of time necessary to complete the planned activities or assignments consistent, not to exceed 240 days, with an opportunity to extend their stay for a maximum of 240 days based on the length of relevant activities.
“Other updates found in the proposed rule include decreasing an F nonimmigrant’s period to prepare for departure from 60 to 30 days; collecting routine biometrics from F, J and I nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay; establishing clear eligibility criteria for F nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay; and defining a foreign media organisation consistent with US Department of State and DHS policy,” the statement added.