International students wishing to study in California may face additional hurdles if a proposed rule goes into effect. The Department of Homeland Security says that the regulation would weed out students who are progressing slowly through their academic programs, but critics say it increases paperwork and uncertainty and is likely to lead to fewer international students at American universities. They have also criticized the data and assumptions underlying the rule, which could go into effect before the end of 2020.
Less flexible for students
According to one attorney, the rules sets a fixed date for the end of a student’s program rather than one that requires the student to make a normal amount of progress. If the regulation is passed, students will be much less flexible in their abilities to change career plans and majors. Students will have to spend more money and may experience greater delays and uncertainty if they need to extend their program, and the reasons for being able to extend are limited. Processing times are also likely to lengthen.
Challenges for universities
One challenge ahead for both universities and students is that they will need to change procedures in order to meet the new requirements even if the regulation is later overturned in court. Many different programs and visas will be affected, including Optional Practical Training and J-1 exchange visas.
The fast-changing and complex nature of immigration law can make it difficult to navigate. People who are seeking student visas, work visas, family reunification visas or other immigration-related services, such as naturalization, might want to contact an attorney. An attorney may help keep individuals informed about changes in the law, assist in preparing documentation and paperwork and stay on top of deadlines. This may prevent costly errors that could lead to delays.