The US Citizenship Act of 2021, introduced last month by senator Bob Menendez and representative Linda Sanchez, includes provisions that would help international students. Provisions for international students in the new US immigration bill, including the permission of dual intent, will be good news to those wanting to study in the US. Currently, Visas are often denied if a student cannot demonstrate that they plan to return to their home country after their studies. The dual intent provision of the new bill will be important in addressing this issue and should be helpful to many international students studying in the USA. It will include F-1 Visa applicants and new rules which will make it easier for international STEM PhD students to stay in the USA after graduation. Dual intent has been included in other visa programs but it hasn’t been included for F-1’s before. This will mean a student will not have to show that they have property in their home country to demonstrate evidence that they plan to return.
Under the current system, which does not permit dual intent, international students have to say that they intend to leave the US when they finish their courses. Visas are sometimes denied if a student cannot explicitly demonstrate that they plan to return to their home country after their studies. Many denials relate to a failure to convince officials that they solely intend to come and study and then leave. Section 3401 of the bill details another important proposal for international students. It would create a new green card program (not subject to the numerical limitations) for international students graduating from an accredited nonprofit or for-profit institution of higher education with a PhD in a STEM field as defined by the Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs. As well as this new green card for PhD graduate students, the country caps on green cards will be re-assessed. New rules would authorize an extension for non-immigrant visas, including F-1s for international students, if they have a pending visa petition or application (such as H-1B) for more than one year. Extensions would be made in one-year increments and would allow for employment authorization when such extensions are granted.