Now THAT’S a headline you don’t see every day. (Follow this link to read the article from which it was taken.) While the current anti-immigrant, anti-foreign climate in the US is not ideal for these types of proposals, I’m pleased to see that this issue is (still) being discussed.
The notion that certain international students who study in the US should be allowed to remain after graduation, should they so desire, is not a new one. President Obama has alluded to it in a couple of State of the Union speeches and even Donald Trump has mentioned it.
Instead of limiting permanent resident status to international STEM graduates with a Master’s or Ph.D. degree, why not include any international student who wishes to remain in the US for the long term? After all, deciding where to work, live and, possibly, emigrate to is a personal decision. Besides, the US population is graying (median age: 37.8 vs. 29.7 for the world), and the economy needs a certain percentage of international graduates to remain, regardless of field of study. As with other well-educated immigrants, they generally make the US a better place on so many levels.
Why not reform student visa policy, following in the footsteps of competitor countries such as Australia and Canada, and base visa issuances on one criterion: ability to pay. By issuing an I-20, admitting institutions have already made a determination that they are bona fide students and their post-study plans are a personal decision. (Many don’t even know what they’ll be doing and many others simply jump through the necessary hoops and say what the interviewing consular wants and needs to hear about returning to their home country.)
Growing numbers of Vietnamese students are returning home because Viet Nam has become a land of economic opportunity in many fields. Others relocate to a third country for employment. Still others remain in the US for the long term, again for employment and other reasons, e.g., marriage to a US national.