The optional practical training program (OPT), which allows international graduates in the United States on student visas to gain work experience related to their fields of study, lacks sufficient risk assessment and governmental oversight, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
While the government shutdown that went into effect October 1 may not have widespread short-term impact on programs funded through the State Department’s International Affairs Account, “major disruption could occur if the closure continues for a prolonged period of time,” the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) reports.
The Department of State made publically available an internal memo sent to Assistant Secretaries and Executive Directors last week that details State Department procedures during the government shutdown that went into effect at midnight.
Acknowledging the impact international students have on their economies, countries worldwide are increasing their efforts to boost the “stay rate” of international students—the number of talented international students who decide to immigrate to their host country for longer periods of time, or even permanently, in order to live and work there—a recent ICEF Monitor article reports.
According to the New York Times, the European Commission recently introduced a new directive in order to lower bureaucratic hurdles for the approximately 200,000 students and researchers visiting from outside the European Union every year.
The commission said that the new rules would mandate maximum visa-processing periods of 60 days, easier transfers between member countries, and access to jobs during the stay.
A Canadian government panel recommended in August that the country double its number of international students by 2022, the New York Times reports.
Currently, 100,000 international students are studying in Canada, triple the number who studied there in 2000.
A recent study from the U.S. Travel Association shows that a high percentage of international travelers who have previously visited the U.S. would discourage others from visiting because of the barriers to entry, CQ reported. The Travel Association study notes that forty three per cent of the 1,200 survey respondents said they would tell an average of eight people to avoid visiting the U.S.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) recently re-introduced (for a third time) the Student Visa Security Improvement Act (H.R. 640), which seeks to increase the tracking of international students in the United States. Bilirakis previously introduced this bill in 2011 (as H.R. 1211), as well as in 2010 (as H.R. 5208). Both times, the bills were referred to the House Judiciary Committee but were not considered any further.
Comparing the recent immigration reform proposals from both President Obama and the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight,” Vic Johnson writes on the NAFSA: Association of International Educators blog that “the president’s plan is clearly stronger” because:
Senate Democrats are blocking a debate on Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) STEM visa bill, passed by the House last week [the Alliance reported], which would abolish the diversity visa program and instead allocate 55,000 visas to international graduates with degrees in the STEM fields from U.S.