Pre-Covid, there were nearly 1.1 million international students attending colleges and universities in the United States. Fast-forward to the 2020-2021 academic year, and those enrollment numbers drop by 43%. This drop was primarily due to conflicts between student visa requirements and COVID-19 protocols. As students and colleges evaluate their options for next year, both groups are looking to the Biden administration to clear up these issues so that international students can make it back to campus in the fall.
Under the traditional international student visa process, students must complete paperwork, participate in an in-person interview at an American consulate, and maintain a minimum course of full-time in-person study to comply with visa restrictions. In 2020, the U.S. government eased those requirements so that internationals students could take classes online during the pandemic. However, today many students still cannot meet in person for an interview. They also are concerned that American consulates will not process their paperwork in time for the fall.
International students often pay full price to attend U.S. colleges and universities. Therefore, their enrollment has an enormous impact on the bottom line for many institutions. A recent study indicated that the decline in international student enrollment at the height of the pandemic cost colleges and universities 1.8 billion dollars. If this trend continues, it is likely to hurt university finances for years to come.
What The Government Can Do
The government has already started responding to these concerns by granting national interest exceptions to students from certain countries. These exceptions let students travel to the U.S. for school despite travel bans. However, universities are calling on the Biden Administration to do more. Specifically, they want the government to:
- Prioritize student and scholar visa processing,
- Extend temporary in-person visa interview waiver eligibility, and
- Use video conferencing for required visa interviews.
As these rules continue to fluctuate, international students must consult with an experienced immigration attorney to help them navigate the process and get back on campus.
Get Professional Assistance
To schedule a consultation with an experienced palm beach immigration attorney, call (561) 342-1429 or contact us online.