By Nsunjo Erica
Is the US government trying to bar African students from pursuing degrees from US universities? Questions arise following the tough visa rules for African students seeking to study in the US.
The US government through the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to limit the stay of African students in the country by barring them from getting visas longer than two years. This is equated to putting an end to the three years’ visas and more than African students were getting previously.
According to analysts, this proposition is an indication that students from majority African countries will be unable to pursue an education in American universities where degrees and other certifications take about four years of study.
“If DHS’s new proposed rule goes through, international students from countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam, and the Philippines would be effectively banned from getting four-year degrees in the US,” US Immigration lawyer Aaron Reinchlin-Melnick, who is a Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council, warns.
Additionally, although the students would be able to ask DHS for an extension of their visas past two years upon expiry, those extensions will not be guaranteed and therefore education continuity is not guaranteed.
According to reports, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia Students are among those who will be affected by the new rules in case the proposal is to be approved.
Other than the East Africans, students from countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Zambia are affected.
Others are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Guyana, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.
The new DHS proposal indicates that students from countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List (Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Northern Korea) and citizens of countries with over 10 percent overstay rate will be limited to the two-year student visa.
“Most of those countries would be subject to restrictions because of the “10 percent visa overstay” threshold,” Mr. Reinchlin-Melnick said in a tweet.
According to the US’s DHS, the intention of the proposal is directed at reducing the number of students overstaying their welcome in the US after the completion of their educational courses.
An analysis by the Department of Homeland Security shows that only 32,023 people were suspected of overstaying a student /exchange visa last year with countries like China, India, Brazil, and Canada having the highest number of overstays. However, they are not included in the punitive list.
The analysis also indicates that Kenya ranks third among sub-Saharan countries and the first in East Africa and followed by Ethiopia in the number of students attending US colleges or universities.
Additionally, according to the analysis, Last year’s 0.9 percent drop in new enrolments of international students in the US continued since Donald Trump started administration in 2017.