The Torch recently reported a decline in international student admissions. Considering that prior to fall 2017 the number of enrolled international students and applications had steadily increased, the trend begs the question as to why the sudden decline occurred in the first place.
As an international student myself, I can definitively say that there are a number of reasons why one would decide not to study abroad in America.
There are the more obvious reasons: It can be financially taxing to attend an American university. It can also be emotionally difficult being away from home, or there might be too much of a cultural difference between the U.S. and someone’s home country.
Then there are some more intricate reasons such as logistics, housing and the most important issue, what I affirm is the culprit in this matter, immigration issues.
In the past two years, many things have changed. The message that the United States is sending out to the rest of the world is that immigrants are not welcome.
With the recent policies initiated by President Donald Trump, such as the “Muslim Ban,” students coming from various countries no longer feel that they, their culture or even their race are welcome in America.
Since Trump was elected, the overall stance of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been anything but welcoming.
Going to school in the U. S. when you’re not a citizen is difficult, but it is even harder to be granted entry to the country in the first place.
After an international student is admitted to an American university, they must request an I-20 form from the institution that accepted them. An I-20 is a form that can be used by the U.S. government to determine that you are eligible for a F1 Student Visa.
After receiving an I-20 form from their school, an international student begins the U.S. Visa application process.
This is a lengthy process which eventually requires them to go to the nearest U.S. embassy — which, in my case, was on the island of Barbados, which cost about $200 to get to by plane — and be interviewed by a U.S. immigration officer to deem them fit for Visa status.
When I went through this process in 2015, I felt very confident that I would be granted entry into the country.
Even more so, attending universities in America is an investment. International students are not eligible for FAFSA and cannot work outside of their campuses.
If you were a Muslim student from a predominantly Islamic country, why would you invest in living in a country that does not want you? Why would you go through the application process when you do not feel confident that you will be accepted once you venture to the nearest embassy?
Consequently, even if St. John’s administration puts out their most welcoming call to the international community, it is the U.S. government who gets the final say in the matter.