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NIU joins other Illinois colleges to address international student visa concerns

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman is one of nearly 30 universities and college presidents and chancellors to sign a letter urging state congressional delegates to address the problems facing the state’s international students as they apply for visas to the United States.

The letter argues that changes in immigration policy have undermined the schools’ and Illinois’ ability to benefit from the more than 53,000 talented international students that are studying in Illinois this school year.

“These students also drive high-growth economic sectors, often breaking new scientific ground and forming new companies,” the letter reads. “Across the country, nearly a quarter of billion-dollar startup companies had a founder that first came to the U.S. as an international student.”

International students contributed $1.9 billion to the state’s economy and supported more than 25,000 jobs, the letter states.

The group of college presidents and chancellors, from public and private universities, claims that changes to the federal immigration policy and procedures are hurting their efforts to recruit and retain international talent.

A couple of international students have been denied visas to attend NIU, Joe King, associate director for institutional communications at NIU, said. The university currently has 1,319 international students.

“It has not been a major issue for us,” King said.

In September, 10th-day enrollment totals for NIU showed 2019’s headcount at 16,609 students, which makes the number of international students at just under 8% of NIU’s total enrollment.

In the letter, the college and university leaders state there have been “increasing delays and denials in processing entry visas.”

There have also been processing delays for the Optional Practical Training Program, which allows international students to obtain temporary employment in the U.S. directly related to their area of study.

There have also been increasing delays and denials in processing H-1B visas, which allow employers to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis.

“These delays can result in lost teaching time and slowed academic progress, and can discourage others who may be considering studying or pursuing research in the United States,” the letter states.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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