Dozens of American academic groups are opposing a proposal by the Trump administration to toughen scrutiny of some US visa applicants, saying it will have a chilling effect on international students studying in the United States.
In a letter to State Department officials on Thursday, more than 50 academic and educational groups across a range of social and physical sciences and representing college admission counselors and advisers said the changes would cause “uncertainties and confusion”, lead to “unacceptably long delays in processing” and apply to a “vague and ill-defined” class of visa applicants, Reuters reports.
“We are very concerned that if the proposed changes are implemented, international undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and scientific collaborators may be discouraged from coming to the United States,” the letter said.
The US State Department has proposed requiring about 65,000 visa applicants per year who consular officers believe warrant enhanced screening to provide all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information.
The proposal came earlier this month, as part of a push toward the “extreme vetting” sought by President Donald Trump.
The prospect of requiring tens of thousands of applicants to hand over their social media information stirred particular concern among members of the education sector, who said incoming students would be put off by having their social media presence scrutinized.
The State Department said in its proposal that the extra information would allow it to “more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities”.
– Contact us at [email protected]