Recap of Immigration Issues Town Hall Hosted by UCI Office of Global Engagement

UCI is committed to supporting our community members from around the world who share the values of learning and discovery to make the world a better place. The UC system complies with applicable laws and regulations and actively advocates for policies that further its academic mission. 

To support this commitment, UCI Office of Global Engagement recently hosted a town hall which brought together a range of experts to share their insights and perspectives and allow UCI community members to ask questions about U.S. regulations that may affect international students and scholars. The meeting addressed concerns about President Trump’s recent proclamation that bars entry to the U.S. for some international graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who have links to certain entities in China and who are in specific fields of study. 

Alberto Sandoval, Senior Director of Community and Government Relations at UCI, kicked off the meeting with a summary of President Trump’s proclamation and shared that UCI is in the process of analyzing the proclamation’s impacts, including:

  • How it applies to graduate students and researchers but not undergraduates
  • How it concerns individuals in certain fields who have been affiliated with certain Chinese institutions with possible military ties
  • The State Department has authority to work out the details and has not yet named the specific fields, specific institutions or implementation plans

Tom Bogenschild, Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) Advocacy Chair, spoke on how to make concerns heard by the presidential administration. Traditional forms of advocacy such as letters to congressional representatives have been ineffective with this administration. Therefore, a new approach involves identifying which universities are in districts of congressional representatives who have influence with the administration and working through those relationships. Bogenschild believes the chaotic, sudden nature of executive orders are intentionally designed to allow members of congress to gauge their constituents as a guide to further action.

David Ware, an immigration attorney specializing in higher education, expanded upon Bogenschild’s discussion of the executive orders. He explained that Trump promised to cut legal immigration by half and primarily through executive actions that do not engage Congress is nearing that goal. He feels the proclamation will have little impact (a “nothing burger”) because U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was already enhancing security checks and slowing legal entry to the U.S. People who are denied often do not know what triggered the denial.

Ware explained that it is not uncommon to have a visa revoked for reasons such as drunk driving or an arrest. Revoking a visa does not change a person’s status or legal right to be in the U.S. Revoking a visa limits the ability to travel in and out of the U.S. but not the ability to stay within the country for the designated purpose and period of time.

There is, however, concern that Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be cancelled or limited. These are programs that allow students to graduate and stay in the U.S. to work for several years in their field. The nation’s entire higher education “ecosystem” could be damaged because businesses rely on skilled workers trained by U.S. universities.

Anna Wimberly, Director of UCI International Center, shared resources for those who feel they may be affected. The International Center is a partner to campus facilitating academic learning and research activities. They are available to talk with UCI faculty, staff and students about their specific cases. Those concerned with international students and immigration compliance meet weekly across the UC system and with professional organizations. The International Center provides policy updates on their website.

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