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Trump's "Merit-Based" Immigration and International Education

Posted on 04th March 2017

In President Donald Trump's speech to the US Congress last week, he alluded to a "merit-based" immigration system. Though the administration did not immediately clarify any details, such an approach could impact the recruitment of international students to the United States.

It's incumbent upon international education leaders -- we who are passionate about advancing global student mobility -- to drive the current political conversation in a productive way as we move forward. INTCAS proposes pro-active, practical and proven solutions to improve the efficiency and integrity of processes related to recruiting and managing bona fide international applicants in a safe, compliant and cost-effective way. Here are two ways to accomplish that:

1. Even though student visa applicants are among the most heavily-vetted of all US immigration categories, we can do an even better job. For example, we can take advantage of robust technology to pro-actively conduct stronger due diligence. That technology includes identity authentication, informed by “Know Your Customer” and “Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines” currently used in the global banking industry. And encourage genuine students to substantiate their financial capacity over time.

2. Advise applicants to establish escrow accounts in advance, with the first year’s tuition and living expenses. That could help mitigate visa denials in mid- to high-risk jurisdictions. In some countries, escrow accounts are gaining significant momentum, as parents are eager to elevate their son or daughter's visa application. And let’s keep in mind that an escrow account also protects the financial sponsor, in case the educational institution stumbles financially.  

These suggestions may indeed meet with some resistance across the international educator community. The challenge is to acknowledge the rationale that necessitates these initiatives -- and pro-actively drive the broader conversation with an open mind.


Related: Treat the Trump Phenomenon like a Study Abroad Experience


Cheryl DarrupBoychuck, INTCAS US
Director of Institutional Relations