AG Healy calls on DHS to rescind proposed rule limiting international students’ time in the U.S.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at an event advocating for student loan reform on January 13, 2017.

Photo: State House New Service

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks at an event advocating for student loan reform on January 13, 2017.

By Charlie McKenna

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy and 22 additional state attorneys general, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Monday calling on DHS to withdraw a new proposed rule that would limit the amount of time international students can spend in the U.S.

The letter argues that the new rule, which would limit international students’ Duration of Status to four years, causes unnecessary harm to students. Under current policy, international students can stay in the country for the duration of their academic studies, so long as they meet federal requirements, including enrolment in an accredited institution. 

If enacted, the new rule would instead impose a two to four year limit on students’ academic pursuits, a harsh limit for students who may need more time to graduate or are enrolled in a program longer than four years. 

“This is another illegal attempt by the Trump Administration to exclude international students from our colleges and universities,” Healey said in a press release. “Massachusetts is home to tens of thousands of students from other countries who enrich our institutions and strengthen our communities. We’re calling on the Administration to withdraw this proposal immediately as it would have far-reaching impacts on our states, our economies, our students and our educational institutions.”

The Department of Homeland Security first proposed the rule Sept. 25, prompting Emerson to hold a town hall for international students on Sept. 28. 

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In an October 2 interview, Andrea Popa, director of the office of international student affairs, said the college plans to send a letter to DHS expressing their concerns with the rule. Emerson has yet to publicly comment on the proposed rule beyond an email from OISA to international students. The college did not return a request to comment from The Beacon. 

The 30-day public comment period allows those who may be impacted by the policy to express concerns, Popa said. She added that President M. Lee Pelton would advocate for more flexibility for international students as part of the President’s Alliance on Immigration and Higher Education, an organization made up of college presidents nationwide that aims to provide support for students from around the globe. 

Popa argued the rule would unduly limit students on F-1 visas ability to adapt to shifting circumstances.

“More flexibility is appropriate for F-1 students,” she said in a Zoom interview. “[With] academics, you can’t quite plan how that’s going to work. You could finish in four [years], but it is also common and absolutely appropriate for a program to require an additional semester, for students to move on to a higher level of education. And that should happen without a grilling process of immigration review.”