Happy 9th Anniversary to IEVN!

Wishing my blog a Happy 9th!  2009 to 2018 is a lot of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue.  Here’s to another nine (9) years of more of the same!  

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Shalom (שלום), MAA

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Proposed Change to Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility

Yet Another Obstacle in the Path of Obtaining a US Student Visa?  

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Sadly, YES, if this proposal becomes law.  From the horse’s mouth:  

Section 212(a)(4) of the INA: Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible[…] In determining whether an alien is excludable under this paragraph, the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum consider the alien’s-(I) age; (II) health; (III) family status; (IV) assets, resources, and financial status; and (V) education and skills . . . .

As Fragomen pointed out in its analysis of this proposed regulation, If finalized in its current form, the rule would require foreign nationals submitting an application for adjustment of status, a visa or a change or extension of nonimmigrant status to establish that they are financially self-sufficient.

If you’re up to it, here’s the full-length version (PDF) published in the Federal Register, a publication I once had to scan back in the day because it was part of my job.  

While I thought this would be covered by the second criterion in the student visa process, namely, ability to pay, this rule sets the bar even higher and gives consular officers the world over yet another reason to just say no.  (This time we’re talking about student visas not drugs a la Nancy Reagan.)  

According to Ware Immigration, any of the following factors could become a “negative factor” that convinces DHS you are likely to become a public charge:

  • Prior or current use of certain public benefits including:  receipt of benefits for U.S. citizen dependent children who are eligible to receive them.
  • Receiving public benefits for more than 12 cumulative months during a 36-month period.
  • Being older than 61.
  • Being younger than 18.
  • Having any medical condition that could interfere with school or work.
  • Having insufficient resources to cover debilitating medical conditions.
  • Not having private health insurance.
  • Having several children or other dependents.
  • Having financial liabilities.
  • Having “bad credit” or a low credit score.
  • Having no employment history.
  • Not having a high school diploma or higher education.
  • Not having “adequate education and skills” to hold a job.
  • Not speaking English.
  • Receiving an application fee waiver from DHS.
  • Having a sworn financial sponsor whom DHS feels is “unlikely” to follow through.

This is not good news for a country already experiencing declining international enrollments for a host of social, political, and economic reasons, as well as push and pull factors related to other leading host countries.  Add this to a long list of negatives.  The perfect storm, indeed.  

The “glass half-empty” part of me sometimes wonders why the Trump Administration doesn’t just cut to the chase and hang out a sign, digital and offline, that says International Students (and Other Foreigners) Are No Longer Welcome Here.  

Shalom (שלום), MAA

 

 

 

Decree 86 Is Good News for Vietnamese Parents & Investors

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New Decree No. 86/2018/ND-CP implementing the Law on Education

Here is the unabridged version of an interview about Decree 86 that I did with Anton Crace, Reporter – Australasia for The PIE News (Vietnam increases domestic participation in international schools).   My answers are in navy blue.  The decree took effect on 1 August 2018.  


I saw Decree 86 increasing the proportion of Vietnamese students in international schools and have a few questions.

It’s good news for Vietnamese parents of means and those interested in investing in international schools in Viet Nam. Local students may now comprise up to 50% of an international school’s total enrollment. Under the old decree (73), the percentages of Vietnamese primary and secondary students in an international schools were limited to 10% and 20%, respectively.

Several of the provisions remain unchanged, for example, the one about curriculum requirements:  Educational programs must not go against the national security and public interests of Vietnam, (b) must not spread religion and distort history, (c) must not negatively affect the cultures, ethics, and traditional customs of Vietnam, and (d) must ensure the connection between all the levels and grades.

The main reason international schools in Viet Nam are so popular is the widespread perception that the quality of their education and training is superior to that of public schools and that the former do a better job of helping young people realize their potential, academic and otherwise.

How will increasing the proportion of domestic students benefit Vietnam?

It will enable more children from well-to-do families to attend international schools, which will better prepare them for overseas study, the ultimate goal of many. The rising competition will also make more international schools accessible to middle class families and could very well have a positive impact on Vietnamese schools. With more choices available than ever for parents and students, international schools will have to be at the top of their games in terms of curriculum, teaching staff, facilities, ancillary services, and reputation in order to be successful in the long-term. It is likely to become a “buyer’s market” to the benefit of the target clientele of parents and students.

Will the decree impact the number of new international schools being set up in Vietnam? Will it be a large enough incentive that a market exists?

Absolutely. The market is there is and not only in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). This was already a hot sector before Decree 86 was announced. Marcel Van Miert, executive chairman of the Vietnam Australia International School (VAS) in HCMC, was quoted as saying that VAS has had an annual growth rate of 20%, which explains in part the interest in international schools from an investor’s perspective. Decree 86 will only serve to accelerate this trend until the pent-up demand has been met.

Is this part of a broader strategy from the Vietnamese government to increase education opportunities and global connections for its citizens?

Exactly. The government is keen on attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI) and expanding educational opportunities for its young people. This decree accomplishes both.

Why has the decision been made now? What’s changed for the government to make this call?

I think this is part of the recent trend of encouraging more FDI and opening up Viet Nam’s economy to the world. It’s a smart and timely decision.

Peace, MAA

Happy 9th Birthday, Capstone Vietnam!

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This week, Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company that I co-founded in 2009 and of which I am managing director, celebrated its 9th birthday.  It has been a helluva ride, one I’ve found to be deeply rewarding on many levels. 

Logo Recruit in vietnam final-01As I mentioned to a colleague the other day, the best situation is when you are able to exploit your own labor rather than have to sell it to someone else and allow them to exploit it (you), to paraphrase Karl Marx.  More about that in this 2017 interview.  

10thLooking forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary and 10 years of Reaching New Heights in September 2019!  

Peace, MAA

Grow Beyond – SEO-Vietnam Career Conference 2018

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I recently saw this announcement on LinkedIn:

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity – Vietnam is organizing the largest career conference in Vietnam in 2018, aiming at connecting top young professionals and fresh graduates to the top-notch firms in Vietnam. We are still open to more booths at the career fair. If you are interested to boost talent acquisition at our event. please let me know. 

Our partners include top notch firms such as: ABInbev, BCG, SSI, Unilever, Traveloka, McKinsey, British American Tobacco and many more.

Here are my responses and other comments:

Great conference and opportunity with one caveat: I wish organizations would not take sponsorship money from companies that manufacture products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, ultimately end up killing them. There’s plenty of sponsorship money out there for worthwhile events. Don’t follow the path of least resistance and take what is essentially blood money.  

Hi Mark, thank you for your attentive concern. The morale side of the business is yet controversial, but from our organizing perspective, we try to give a diversified company portfolio, which have prominent career trainings, employees benefits and opportunities for young professionals to make their own choices :). 

It’s not controversial for those who believe that people are more important than profit.  My point is about sponsorship not whether such a company should have a booth at your event. Regarding employment with a company that manufactures products that are highly addictive, make their customers sick and, in many cases, end up killing them, here are two relevant quotes from Thích Nhất Hạnh: 1) “Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living.” 2) “The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others.” https://english.vov.vn/society/vietnamese-cancer-mortality-rate-higher-than-traffic-accidents-361688.vov 

Thank you for sharing chi!

Peace, MAA

Study in the USA: A Service Sector Export That No Longer Sells Itself

This matter-of-fact assertion does not (and should not) come as a surprise to US colleagues who recruit internationally.  Here’s a recent story that inspired this post, so to speak, plus a heartfelt appeal. 


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Photo courtesy of EducationUSA

I noticed that a number of students had applied to, been admitted by, and received visas to attend a particular school in the US.  This interest was the result of a couple of public events and, of course, what the school has to offer, including solid academics and attractive scholarships for qualified and deserving students. 

Amazingly, there would have been one more student but she withdrew her application because of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on 14 February 2018 in Parkland, Florida.  Her parents decided not to send her to study in the US.  (Maybe the USA’s loss is Canada’s gain, in this case?)  So, yes, safety, as an essential element of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a primary concern among parents, as it is for all of us.  The writing is on the recruitment wall and those of us who help international students study in the US ignore it at our collective peril.

While the number of young Vietnamese studying in the US is still healthy, these cases give one pause. You might say that this one student is insignificant because there were 31,613 Vietnamese students in the US, as of March 2018, but there are signs that others are following suit.  For example, there are about 15,000 Vietnamese students in Canada, nearly half as many as there are in the US, a country with nine times the population and thousands more educational institutions. 

Remarkably, Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase in 2017 at 89%, making Viet Nam the fastest growing market in the country.  Canada is now a top five host country for Vietnamese students, after Japan, the USA, and Australia, followed by China. 

While US education, both secondary and postsecondary, is still a brand, it no longer sells itself.  Current news, e.g., the mass shooting du jour, a relatively high student visa denial rate, the latest policy announcement to require social media information from all visa applicants for the past five (5) years, the latest missile strike, and a roiling cauldron of perceptions (and misperceptions) can have a decisive impact on where a young person studies.

Do You Have Any I HEART Vietnamese Students Stories? 

I’ve heard stories from many colleagues about how much they value and appreciate Vietnamese students, not only for the financial contributions they make to their host institution and the communities in which they are located, but their academic performance, their integration into the campus community, their leadership qualities, and their positive attitude.

I would like ask those of you who have worked with Vietnamese students and have such a story share it with me in a 750-word essay, including photos and quotes, if possible.  I will take some of these essays and incorporate material into an article about Vietnamese students.  I would also like to translate some into Vietnamese and share them widely. By doing this, you will be helping to promote study in the USA in Viet Nam and, indirectly, promoting your institution.  Now more than ever is the time to show them (more) love.

Please contact me at markashwill[AT]capstonevietnam.com, if you’re interested in contributing an essay.

Peace, MAA