International students hit by US visa changes

Published on: Sep 16, 2020, Last Edited: Sep 16, 2020 | Tags: USA Visa Fees, USA Visa Requirements

US revoking more visas of Chinese students

The relationship between the United States and China continues to evolve when it comes to U.S. visas and immigration. Since June 2020, the United States government has been targeting Chinese nationals who they believe have links to the Chinese military. Under the new changes, the US State Department has revoked the visas of over 1000 Chinese graduate students and researchers.

President Donald Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 10043 in May 2020 and implemented it on June 1, 2020. The proclamation stated the People’s Republic of China was believed to be engaged in a campaign to clandestinely acquire sensitive technological and intellectual information from the United States. The perceived aim of China’s campaign is to modernize and boost the capability of the People’s Liberation Army, as the Chinese military is known.

In a statement, the US State Department said that those who had been expelled were high-risk researchers and graduate students. Thus, under Presidential Proclamation 10043, they were not eligible for a visa. The State Department believes that it is necessary to revoke the visas to safeguard national security they believe that China applies leverage to researchers and graduate students in the US to steal sensitive information, technology, and intellectual property.

Deteriorating relations between the US and China

Since Donald Trump became president, the relationship between Beijing and Washington has become increasingly strained. Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of State of Homeland Security, claimed that China was levering its military, diplomatic and economic power to demonstrate its rejection of a liberal democratic ethos, and was continually striving to impose its authoritarian values on the world.

How has Beijing reacted to these expulsions?

Beijing has yet to respond to this move by the US. In June this year, Beijing stated that the education ministry strongly opposed the proposed restriction on visas for Chinese students, accusing the US of politicizing well-established educational exchanges. The fear is that China could respond by expelling US academics in a reprisal. The two countries have both recently implemented restrictions on diplomats and journalists. When the United States closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, China retaliated by closing the US consulate in Chengdu.

International students faced with visa fee rises

Visa fees are about to rise for many visa categories, including international students, business applicants, and new citizens. The increase is the latest plank in a raft of policies aimed at reducing immigration figures. It will also make it more expensive to become a US citizen, and it will be more difficult for US companies to employ foreign nationals.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the final rule on July 31, 2020. The fee rise was first proposed in 2019 and will come into effect on October 2, 2020. Critics of the fee increases point to the fiscal difficulties in which USCIS finds itself, following what they describe as three and a half years of mismanagement (the agency is part of DHS). The agency has moved from a financial surplus to a large deficit and has asked Congress for a substantial bailout.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee of Immigration and Citizenship was informed in July that these financial problems resulted from the new immigration policies introduced during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Adjudications have become more complex, so more staff are needed, while fewer cases are heard, reducing the efficiency of USCIS.

What are the new fees for international student visas?

There is a substantial increase in fees for Adjustment of Status. The cost to international students on OPT (Optional Practical Training) programs and other non-DACA applicants of applying for l-765 9 (employment authorization) will go up from $410to $550, an increase of 34%. The DHS refused to make any changes to the rule. Although many see this final rule as disincentivizing international students from traveling to the US to study, the DHS has refused to make any changes.

The cost of filing forms for adjustment of status (I-485) is now $10 less. However, AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) points out that the DHS is now charging separate fees for each of the forms required (l-485, l-131, and l-765). This increase adds up to a significant increase in expenses.

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