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Dear Congress, Foreign Students Face Visa Delays

Drew among 25 N.J. colleges petitioning Congressional reps.

May 2019 – MaryAnn Baenninger is among the leaders of New Jersey colleges who are speaking out about delays in processing visas for international students and professors.

The presidents of the 25 four-year schools in N.J. sent a letter to their representatives in Congress that asserts that an “increasingly log-jammed immigration system” is “impacting our ability to recruit, retain and bring to our campuses foreign talent.

“Simply put, as it becomes more difficult for foreign students and academics to study and work in the United States, many of them are turning to other options, weakening not just our individual institutions but American higher education as a whole, and by extension, our country’s global competitiveness.”

More specifically, visa applications are taking longer to process, forcing students and faculty to miss or defer semesters, even though they appear to meet basic eligibility requirements, according to the letter. “Visa applicants are generally not provided with any explanations, nor are they told how long the additional processing may last,” the letter adds.

In addition, international students seeking training in jobs related to their studies now wait up to 5½ months for their Optional Practical Training permits to be processed—up from three months in 2016, the letter notes. Finally, foreign-born faculty and staffers are experiencing a significant uptick in requests for evidence to support their work visa applications.

Drew is ranked 15th nationally among baccalaureate colleges for enrolling international students, according to the Institute of International Education.

To read the full letter, please click here.