International Educator - January/February 2013 - 6
Arabic, a citizen of Egypt, who was working in Canada at the time of his hire. The semester was beginning in three weeks, and because he had never had to go through a security clearance to obtain a U.S. visa before, he did not expect one this time. However, due to the events in Egypt as part of last year’s Arab Spring, he did not receive his visa clearance until two weeks after the semester was underway, and the department had to scramble to secure a replacement temporary instructor, which was a great cost and time consuming to the department.
Data is more than your “friend”—it is a necessity to help prove your point. Periodically, provide data on the numbers of international students at your school, the countries from which they come, and the programs in which they enroll. Show multiyear trends. Provide similar data for faculty and research scholars. You are likely already collecting this data for the annual Open Doors yearly census reports. Show the economic impact of international students in your state by using the NAFSA economic data, available at: http://www.nafsa. org/eis. The data is also given by congressional district, and your campus federal relations officer or government relations officer will appreciate having this information. All of this helps highlight the importance of having international students on your campus.
Connecting Our World is a grassroots advocacy community created by NAFSA to give members and the public tools to engage with elected officials on issues important to international education. We are a community of individuals taking action to support public policies that strengthen and expand international education. Sign up today to get the inside scoop on how international education changes lives, impacts your community, and shapes our global future. As part of our online community, you’ll stay informed on the issues and join us in taking action by sending messages to Congress and the White House to support opportunities for living and learning across borders. Visit www.connectingourworld.org/join.
Tell a Story
Use stories to demonstrate the problems with current immigration law. Sharing the day-to-day impact that a broken immigration system has on your campus is crucial to getting additional advocates on board to support a change to the system. Here are some real life examples. EXAMPLE A: An H-1B visa holder’s employment came to an end, and she decided to enroll in a full-time doctoral program. She successfully applied for a change of status to F-1, but her wife is a U.S. citizen. New York State has a marriage equality act, but the U.S. government does not. This means that her marriage is recognized in New York State, but she is not eligible for any benefits under federal immigration law. So, she cannot become
a permanent resident due to the lack of federal marriage equality legislation, and she cannot travel to her home country because her F-1 visa application may be denied due to her marriage, on the assumption that she intends to reside permanently in the United States. If the F-1 visa became a “dual intent” visa similar to H-1B, and if a federal marriage equality act were to be passed, she would be eligible for immigration benefits under such an act. EXAMPLE B: Three Jordanian PhD students in industrial and systems engineering returned home to Jordan during winter break and needed to renew their visas. They had been successful with their previous F-1 visa applications and had never had a security clearance review. All three worked with various hospitals as part of their research, helping the hospitals to become more efficient in delivering services and managing costs. Their research helped save one hospital corporation $250,000 in one year. In all three cases, their visas were delayed and did not clear for more than eight weeks. Hospitals were paying the university for the students’ time, projects had to be halted, and there was a deadline for the use of funds. What was the
lesson that these doctoral students learned? Don’t travel home! A more transparent visa process is something to hope for from comprehensive immigration reform. Under current immigration law, the basis for issuing certain nonimmigrant visas, including the F-1 student visa, is the requirement that the visa applicant prove that he/she is “not an intending immigrant.” Although the Department of Homeland Security states publicly on its “Study in the States” website that they welcome international students and want to encourage students to come to the United States and then make contributions to our society, the fact remains that our country’s immigration laws have yet to be changed. Students still have their visa applications denied because of perceived immigrant intent. Schools become frustrated when they make an offer of admission to a gifted student who then is unable to come. What kind of contribution might that student have made? What would help would be to make the F-1 a dual intent visa, similar to H-1Bs where the visa can be for a temporary stay or a stay leading to long-term employment or U.S. permanent residency.
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