January 15, 2021

Dear President Biden: GAISA's Open Letter to the New Administration

Image: Inauguration day January 20th, 2009 credit David Bergman

Part 2 of our 2 part series covering the insights of our Foreign on Campus Report 2021.

As President-elect Joe Biden heads to Washington, many of us are hoping to see a powerful course correction in how the U.S. government treats the international students who come here to study. All of us at GAISA are encouraged that the Biden-Harris 2020 platform included meaningful provisions to improve the international student experience. But we need to do more than just correct the misguided actions of previous administrations — we need to seize this opportunity to more fully activate the potential of a nearly 8-billion-person global talent pool.

We know the U.S. is economically stronger, culturally richer, and globally more competitive as a result of the great contributions of its international students. Yet tremendous damage has been done to the leadership position the nation once held as the top destination for students from around the world. This is why we have sent an open letter to the President-elect laying out urgent and actionable steps his administration can take to ensure the continued vitality of our international students — and our nation.

DO NOW—What the Biden Administration can do immediately:

  • Repeal the Muslim Travel Ban. Although they are ostensibly exempt from this ban, many international scholars have experienced substantial delays in visa processing or renewals, causing them to miss entire semesters of study.
  • Reinstate DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program provides a critical opportunity for impacted young adults to attend college and take advantage of study abroad programs.
  • Drop Duration of Status Limits. The fixed duration of admission for international students of either two or four years has disproportionately affected students pursuing STEM pathways and disincentivizes them from choosing the U.S. to advance in these fields.
  • Repeal H-1B Restrictions. Restrictions to the H-1B visa program have been shown to have no impact on protecting American jobs from non-citizen talent.

DO NEXT—What the Biden Administration can do in the near-term:

  • Introduce a Joint Commission for International Students. Leverage the resources of the Departments of Education and Homeland Security to examine and reimagine opportunities to advance U.S. higher education within the context of international relations.
  • Intersectionality Matters. Advocate for it. Recognize how intersecting identities shape the lived experiences of international students.

DO MORE—Where the Biden Administration can have even greater impact:

  • Increase Access to Financial Aid. Federal financial aid is only available to U.S. citizens, yet we charge international students up to three times more.
  • Include International Students in CARES Act Funding. Institutions must come up with emergency funds themselves for their international students in need, even if they are taxpayers with valid Social Security numbers.
  • Expand Work Rights for International Students. Extend the amount of time available for international students to stay and work in the country post-graduation.

Get involved with our movement for change! Click the button for your free copy of the GAISA Foreign on Campus Report 2021 and get access to a downloadable copy of the letter, which you can sign and send to the mailing address provided.