Stanford joins amicus brief in support of international students and scholars

Stanford is one of 66 colleges and universities around the country that joined an amicus brief challenging new federal rules that make it easier to penalize people who overstay their visas, even if they do so inadvertently or through no fault of their own.

The brief, filed Friday, Dec. 21, is in a federal district court case in North Carolina brought this fall by four colleges against Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others.

In August, a new federal policy changed the conditions for determining “unlawful presence” status for international students and scholars on F, J and M visas. Previously, individuals were considered to be in the country unlawfully the day after they were put on formal notice of an alleged violation or ordered to leave the country.

Under the new policy, the lawsuit states, “the unlawful-presence clock will be backdated to the day on which [federal officials] conclude that the visa holder first fell out-of-status.” It contends that “the new policy’s use of a backdated unlawful-presence clock will render tens of thousands of F, J, and M visa holders subject to three- and ten-year reentry bars without any opportunity to cure.”

According to the amicus brief joined by Stanford, “Rule changes such as this make the United States a less welcoming place for international study and have a demonstrable impact on international interest in American higher education. Consequently, the new rule will be detrimental to both our institutions and the larger American economy.”