JoLLE’s Statement Regarding International Student Visas

To the International JoLLE Community:

On September 24th, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security administration proposed a change to the policy that governs student visas, restricting the time that international students can stay in the United States for their studies to four years. Currently, international students are “admitted into the United States for the period of time that they are complying with the terms and conditions of their nonimmigrant category” (Department of Homeland Security, 2020), meaning that they are allowed to remain as long as they are in school or formal training. However, this proposed rule would limit student visas to four years, requiring students to apply for an extension if their studies were to take longer, with no guarantee that the extension would be granted.  For certain countries, such as a number of countries in Africa and Asia, the United States only provides two-year visas, and students must reapply mid-way through their programs for added time. 

This proposed rule creates a cloud of uncertainty for international students, who, like all of us in the pandemic, are facing an extraordinarily difficult time. According to the US News & World Report Survey of Earned Doctorates (2019), “the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years.” This restriction proposed by the Department of Homeland Security will undoubtedly jeopardize students’ academic studies and futures if they are deported before completing their degrees on a typical timeline. The stress of applying for visa extensions could impede productivity and add to the pressures already in place from dislocation and now the COVID-19 crisis. The rule could ultimately make studying in the US a less appealing prospect for international students, resulting in universities in the US being less able to attract international talent.

JoLLE relies profoundly on the contributions of international students and scholars, as does the field of language and literacy education. International researchers serve on both our editorial board and external review board, and without their contributions we would be unable to do the work we do. Our journal simply would not be sustainable without their vital work, and language and literacy education would be impoverished by their absence. 

We hope that now can be a time that we come together and vocally support our international students by speaking out against proposed policies that limit their educational possibilities and have the potential to inflict damage upon our academic fields. Diversity in all fields is vital, but especially so in education, for which the ultimate goal is the education and care of all of our learners, both similar and different from ourselves.


The JoLLE Editorial Board


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