NACAC Opposes New US Policies Impacting International Student Enrollment

Media Contact:
Lindsay Addington

Arlington, VA (June 24, 2020) – The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) today expressed its disappointment with the Trump administration’s decision to continue policies that negatively affect the ability of colleges and universities to attract international students. The executive order signed Monday suspends entry to the US for those on H-1B and J-exchange visitor visas who want to participate in internship, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel programs.

“The H-1B program in particular is an important tool to making US colleges attractive to international students and scholars,” said Joyce Smith, the association’s CEO. “Without it, the US is at risk of losing talent to other countries that offer more favorable employment and training opportunities for international students once they graduate. Our colleges and universities are facing a bleak fall semester with far fewer international students due to challenges with securing visas and travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic. At this critical juncture, the United States should be supporting policies that promote our nation’s colleges as the premier destination to pursue an education.”

The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs. J-1 exchange students, many experiencing life in the US for the first time, become ideal prospects for returning at a future date to study in the US. The H-1B visa program allows US employers to temporarily employ highly skilled workers from other countries in specialty occupations, for which graduates of US institutions are well positioned. These programs help attract students and scholars to US universities seeking to expand their knowledge and experience while helping fill the needs of various companies, universities, and other employers. 

The curtailing of these programs stems from a presidential proclamation issued April 22 by President Trump. That action barred certain immigrants from coming into the country for a minimum of 60 days and opened the door for federal leaders to recommend further limitations to the J-1 visas, H-1B visas, and other programs—a move the administration put into action this week. The association was relieved that international students and Optional Practical Training (OPT) were not impacted by this executive order.

NACAC expressed its opposition to the initial proclamation, and the association remains steadfast in its belief that these new policies undermine the position of the United States as an international leader in higher education. The policies suggest a hostility toward international visitors and immigrants and risk further damaging the economic well-being of our nation’s colleges and universities. At a time when colleges and universities will struggle to enroll students of all backgrounds, the nation should pursue policies that reduce barriers to entry at our nation’s universities and promote academic exchanges between countries.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of nearly 14,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

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