International Students Facing Crisis Due to Backlog of Immigration Services
International students graduating from some of our country’s most prestigious colleges and universities are facing an employment and financial crisis due to delays in visa approvals to work in the United States. The overstressed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department is facing a backlog in visa approvals that are leaving highly qualified applicants unable to begin internships and career appointments with prominent employers.
While recent graduates of Columbia University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Dartmouth College await approval for their work visas, their financial situations are deteriorating. Many of these graduates had appointments to begin jobs and paid internships upon graduation in May, but are now trying to exist without an income while they wait for their visa approvals.
Immigration Laws Affecting International Recruitment
A recent crackdown on international students that overstayed their visas has led to the backlog of visa approvals. Trade restrictions between the U.S. and China are also contributing to visa delays. As these delays become more frequent, recruitment of international students is on a decline. Princeton University officials claim that the processing time for international student visas has increased 46 percent in the past two years and has led to a significant decline in international student applications. In a letter to lawmakers written on behalf of New Jersey colleges and universities, the president of Princeton University claimed that the immigration hurdles facing international students has made recruitment and retention of foreign students increasingly difficult.
The international work program, Optional Practical Training, offers legal international students the opportunity to work in the United States for a year following their graduation from an American university or college. Students can only apply 90 days before their anticipated graduation date. The average wait time for approval into this program was 60 days. This year, USCIS estimates the wait time for approval to be five months.
In the meantime, international students are faced with the loss of job offers, internship appointments, and financial problems while they wait for their visa approval. Because these students are unable to work in any capacity without the approved visa, many have been forced to return home because they cannot afford their rent and living expenses. Foreign families that depended on their student’s income to supplement their living expenses are also dealing with the financial impact.
Planning for the Future
As international students struggle to survive in the current climate of immigration hurdles, American colleges and universities are working to create solutions to the problems they are facing. After receiving a letter from 150 students, Yale University announced the addition of a course to be offered this fall that will enable them to approve off-campus employment instead of waiting for visa approval from the federal government
Princeton University and Columbia University are also responding to the plight of their international students by ensuring them of their continued efforts to improve the current situation. A Princeton University spokesperson said that they are working with Washington to come up with programs that will expedite the visa approval process and initiate long-term improvements in the system.
Philadelphia Visa Petition Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Advocate for International Students
If you are an international student facing a visa approval delay, call the Philadelphia visa petition lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. at 215-496-0690 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.