University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 partnered with other leaders in higher education across the state of New Jersey to send a letter to Congress expressing concerns about immigration delays and policy.
Eisgruber and the other New Jersey college and university leaders wrote in the letter that they were particularly concerned about their ability “to attract and retain international students, faculty, and scholars.”
“Our schools vary in mission, size and the makeup of our student bodies, but we all depend on our ability to attract motivated students and scholars from throughout society and around the world,” they wrote in the letter. “We believe our success in these endeavors plays an important role in building the State’s innovation economy.”
They expressed concern at “impediments” put in the path of international students, faculty, and staff.
One obstacle they listed in the letter was that of administrative processing delays. They said graduate students and faculty have had to miss or defer entire semesters because their visa applications were delayed at the State Department.
The letter also expressed concern at the increase in processing delays for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which permits foreign students studying in the United States to apply for training with a U.S. employer in a job directly related to their course of study. According to the letter, the processing times for OPT applications “have increased from a previous maximum of 90 days in 2016 to 3½ - 5½ months today.”
“The types of situations described above rarely make front-page news and the isolated impact of each example is certainly not as dramatic as the effect of higher-profile actions such as the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or the travel ban,” they wrote in the letter. “However, taken together, they create a frustrating and sometimes hostile environment for those wishing to live in and contribute to our communities.”
Eisgruber and the other New Jersey leaders then cited a number of reports on the decrease in enrollment of international students at U.S. graduate schools. The report found that enrollment had fallen for the second year in a row.
The letter concluded with an appeal to Congress to “closely monitor the policies and administrative actions that are threatening the free flow of students and scholars upon which our colleges and universities depend.”
The letter follows several instances of Eisgruber challenging the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Eisgruber has previously advocated for permanent protection for “Dreamers” who came to the United States as children and for individuals with temporary protected status.