Press Club

Statutes of Liberty: Trump Administration Proposes New Rules for F-1 Student Visas

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

This fall, many students are not returning to their college campuses as they normally would, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If the Trump Administration can have its way, many foreign national students also won’t be continuing their education in the United States as easily as they did in the past. If you find discussion of regulation boring, you won’t like this post — our advice to you is to start drinking heavily.* (Sentences with Animal House references are marked with a *).

There is a little-known codicil in the United States Constitution which gives the Secretary of Homeland Security power to issue regulations affecting the administration of the F-1 visa program.* Acting on that authority, the Trump Administration has issued a new proposed regulation that would only allow students to enter the country for a maximum of four years.

Currently, a student who enters the United States with a valid visa is admitted for “duration of status,” which means that as long as the student is properly registered for classes and following all of the rules, the student remains in valid status.  Some students, like Bluto, abuse this privilege by watching — Christ! — seven years of college go down the drain.* But many students have excellent reason to extend their stay — for example, by starting a Ph.D after finishing an undergraduate degree.

The Trump Administration’s four-year limit could be problematic for a few reasons. First, some students do not finish a degree in exactly four years; some programs, like PhD programs, are significantly longer. This means that students would likely have to request an extension in the middle of their academic program in the hopes that they will receive the extension and finish their degree.

To qualify for an extension, the proposed regulation requires “a compelling academic reason, documented illness or medical condition, or circumstances beyond the student’s control.” (Post-traumatic stress from frightening an innocent horse to death presumably does not count.* Whether a simpler reason would count — e.g., changing majors — is unclear.)

This puts a heavier burden on students, and could affect initial enrollment if students are concerned that they will not be permitted to finish their degree program in the first place.

Second, this regulation will put an additional burden on Designated School Officials (DSOs). Under the new rules, the DSO’s recommendation to extend would only be half of the equation; USCIS would take the DSO’s extension recommendation into account, but the DSO’s recommendation is not the end all be all.

Therefore, DSOs may have to provide multiple recommendations just so an international student can finish a single degree program, stretching the DSOs’ resources thin and increasing the administrative cost of education — which is already so high that it resembles extortion.*

Third, we foresee this regulation creating more work for the Department of State in the future. If an international student is not granted an extension and must depart the United States, the student may then apply for a new student visa to return and finish the degree program. The student would again have to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad as part of the application process. The U.S. Department of State is already facing a backlog of visa applications, especially given the suspension of routine visa services due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fourth and finally, this new regulation could negatively impact universities and the surrounding community. Generally speaking, international students pay full tuition, and therefore, universities will potentially have fewer funds to support students without the international student population. Further, fewer students would mean less money spent on local housing and businesses. This could take a dramatic toll on local communities, especially smaller college towns.

While this new regulation is primarily aimed at curving fraud and disincentivizing the operation of “pay to stay” schools, we believe that the tradeoffs are not worth it. Rather, we believe that the Department of Homeland Security’s resources would be better spent investigating the schools themselves, rather than making every single student jump through extra hoops to receive their high-priced U.S. education.

We also expect an almost immediate lawsuit asking a federal court to enjoin these new regulations if they do go into effect. (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)*

As always we would love to hear your thoughts and we will do our best to respond. (Hello!)*

Recent Stories

Our two-day stormy stretch is expected to carry on into Sunday, so make sure you take advantage of any sunny and dry periods as we head into the weekend. The…

Navigate the complex world of wine from the team at Arrowine & Cheese in the new The Nose That Knows column.

Inova is setting up a day-long community blood drive in Courthouse on Monday The healthcare company’s blood donation arm is again partnering with Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar for…

A 3 BD/2 BA updated home with a new roof, refinished hardwood floors and private parking space is included in Open Houses.

“Probing the highly imaginative, inspired mind of Teresa Oaxaca is not altogether unlike having a present-day conversation with an Old Master,” says Nashville Arts Magazine.

Here is an unusual opportunity to learn from this incredibly talented and accessible artist, at Art House 7’s two-day oil painting workshop in October. Teresa will give 2 portrait painting demonstrations for 3 hours each morning. Students will then be painting from a clothed live model. Teresa will offer individual critiques that focus on materials, techniques, process and artistic vision. You’ll get jazzed up about painting and become more confident about your abilities.

Art House 7, Two-Day Oil Painting Workshop with Teresa Oaxaca. Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. EDT $250.

See more about Teresa Oaxaca here. Art House 7 5537 Langston Blvd., Arlington, Va. 22207

Submit your own Community Post here.

Validating one’s emotions has the power to heal, transform, and empower. What Is Validation? Every human being has feelings. We all have emotions that change over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The question isn’t whether we feel; it’s how we handle feelings once they arise.

Building strategies to understand emotions is essential to positive mental health, and validation is one effective skill to practice.

Emotional validation is the process of understanding, embracing, and actively listening to another person’s feelings (or your own).

Understanding someone’s emotions doesn’t necessarily mean you approve of how they are feeling or reacting to something. You can be supportive in acknowledging and validating an emotional experience without agreeing or diminishing it. Validation is a skill to learn and improve over time. It may take practice, but the effort is most certainly worth it. Emotional validation has the power to enhance interpersonal communication and foster strong relationships.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

ACFCU’s Homebuying Happy Hour

Are you ready to buy your first home, but concerned about saving for a down payment? Grab a drink and join us for 45 minutes to learn more about how you can buy your first house with 3%, 5%, or

Azure Dream Day Spa Grand Opening

Azure Dream Day Spa is hosting their Grand Opening Celebration at their beautiful new spa located at 901 N. Quincy St. on Friday, August 12 from 5-9 p.m.

All are invited to come tour the new spa and to take


Subscribe to our mailing list