Penn State joins with higher education groups to oppose visa rule change

Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In response to proposed federal regulatory changes by the Department of Homeland Security to establish new visa requirements and processes for international students across the country, Penn State has joined with Pennsylvania universities and national higher education groups to oppose the rule.

“Our international students are valuable members of our University community, and we will continue to do everything we can to support their continued growth and academic success as Penn Staters,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “Together with our higher education partners across the commonwealth and the country, we have shared our concerns that this rule is not in the best interests of students, and that it also weakens the capacity of the United States to attract the best and brightest students from around the world.”

In the University’s comment letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jones wrote, “This proposed rule change continues to communicate the message to international students and scholars that they are not welcome in this country.”

Penn State provided input for the higher education community comment letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the comment letter submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU). In addition, Penn State has signed a comment letter alongside university provosts from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, Temple University, Lehigh University, Drexel University and Villanova University.

The proposed rule, “Fixed Time Period of Admission and an Extension of Stay Procedure for Nonimmigrant Academic Students, Exchange Visitors and Representatives of Foreign Information Media,” would limit international students’ time in the U.S. by setting fixed terms of two or four years for student visas, as well as establish procedures for students to apply in order to extend their stay and continue to study in the United States. These changes could negatively impact students from certain countries who could have their stay limited further.

Currently, international students can stay in the United States for the duration of time it takes them to complete their degree program, and most international students adhere to visa requirements while attending institutions like Penn State, which accept the responsibility to monitor their academic progress to adhere to federal visa laws.

Penn State is concerned that a change in this rule will make the U.S. a less desirable destination for prospective undergraduate and graduate international students and could have detrimental economic effects.

According to Jones, the University looks forward to working with the federal government to make productive improvements to the visa process, and to help the United States remain welcoming to international students from around the world.

For information about available support and resources for international students at Penn State, visit

Last Updated April 15, 2021