Feds Tighten Rules on Student Visas and Conditional Admissions

Feds Tighten Rules on Student Visas and Conditional Admissions

November 28, 2012

According to new guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), international students now have to demonstrate their proficiency in English to the federal government in order to study in the United States, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the division of DHS that issues student visas, announced last month that colleges and universities must issue two separate I-20 forms, the student visa application documents, to international students. Institutions will be required to grant one 1-20 for admission to English-intensive classes. Once a student demonstrates proficiency, schools may then issue a second I-20 form to certify admission to an academic degree program.

Currently, many institutions have made it a practice to conditionally admit international students who meet the academic but not the linguistic requirements by issuing one single I-20 form.

Government officials noted that the announcement is simply enforcing existing federal rules that require prospective students to meet all standards for admission before they can be given an I-20 to pursue academic coursework, with no exemptions. "Per federal regulations, conditional admission is prohibited," said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman with the Department of Homeland Security.

Ms. Fobbs told the Chronicle that the department is in the process of refining its policies regarding the subject. Agency officials hope to issue new draft guidance on conditional admissions and other pathway programs “ which blend intensive English and academic coursework “ for public comment early in the new year, she said.

The enforcement of the policy creates more paperwork for admissions officers, but it does not dictate whether a student can be offered admission or not. Provisional acceptance can still be issued, but students must undergo a more convoluted system before formal matriculation is permitted.


Related Links:

The Chronicle of Higher Education


Michael Sisson