The United States Chamber of Commerce is demanding the federal government provide visas to foreign students taking online courses at American colleges and universities.
This month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would enforce federal law which dictates that foreign students are not rewarded F-1 student visas for the purpose of attending online courses.
“[Foreign] students will not be permitted to enter or remain in the United States to attend such schools but they are not barred from continuing to attend all classes at these schools from abroad,” DHS officials wrote.
In response, university systems — including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — are suing President Trump’s administration by claiming there is no legal standing to not reward visas to online foreign students.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, likewise, says the business group will “consider its legislative and legal options” if Trump does not begin giving visas to online foreign students:
This policy could force tens of thousands of international students to leave the U.S. for reasons outside of their control and needlessly injects an immense amount of uncertainty into our nation’s higher education system at a time when colleges and universities are grappling with significant logistical and financial challenges. [Emphasis added]
The chilling effect it will have on international student enrollment will inflict significant harm upon American colleges and universities, their students, the business community, and our economy. International graduates of U.S. universities are a critical source of talent for American businesses and the Chamber will consider its legislative and legal options should this policy remain in place. We urge the administration to rethink this ill-conceived policy. [Emphasis added]
RJ Hauman, government relations director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Breitbart News that the outrage over standard federal immigration law by university systems is because they are “reliant on foreign students who pay astronomically high tuition because it buys the right to live here.”
“They’re worried that there will be less demand if they’re only offering education, albeit online, instead of residency with a path to employment and permanent immigration,” Hauman said.
The F-1 student visa program — as well as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa program that delivers foreign graduates to businesses at discounted rates — is a cash cow for American colleges and universities.
Every year, nearly one million foreign students who fill seats in undergraduate and graduate programs provide at least $9 billion to U.S. university systems. These foreign students often pay three times as much in tuition and fees as their American counterparts.
“Higher education and the business lobby are once again showing their true colors — will they ever react in such a way for American students facing yet another awful semester and a terrible job market down the line? Never,” Hauman said.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.