Visa Crunch

The new immigration bill comes as a great relief for international students

The new citizenship bill proposed by Bob Menendez and Linda Sanchez, the US Citizenship Act of 2021, aims to permit “dual intent” for F-1 Visa applicants. Dual intent refers to an immigration law concept, wherein certain U.S. visas allow visa holders to be temporarily present in the USA with both, lawful status and intent to immigrate.

Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at ACE said, “The dual intent provision is pretty big and I’m hopeful that that is going to be helpful in sending a welcoming message to international students.”  

She added, “We do allow for dual intent on other visa programs, but it hasn’t been included for F-1’s before. And so this means that a student is not going to have to show that they have property in their home country to demonstrate evidence that they plan to return.”

Under the current regime, international students studying in higher education institutes in the USA have to declare that they their intent is to leave the USA once their study is over. However, under the new changes proposed by the new bill, this will change.

Another change that is outlined in the bill is particularly for PHD graduate students. Section 3401 of the US Citizenship Act 2021 outlines a new green card program, specifically for students graduate with a PhD in a STEM field.

Spreitzer elaborated, “If you were a STEM PhD graduate and you wish to remain in the country, you could immediately apply for a green card.” She further added, “The other thing that international student graduates who wish to remain in the country have been concerned with is the country cap on green cards…this bill would address this by increasing the overall number of green cards, capturing previously unused green cards and removing certain categories from the numerical caps and then removing the per-country caps.”

Lastly, Section 3410 aims to address the OPT backlogs that have been costing international students job opportunities and robbing them of their legal immigration status. Outlined in the section are new rules which authorise the extension of non-immigrant visas, such as F-1 visas if there is a pending visa petition or application for a period greater than one year.

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