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Dramatic shift in U.S. international HE policy on day 1 of Biden presidency

U.S. Government policies regarding international higher education changed on the very first day of the new administration of President Joseph R. Biden.  On 20 January 2021, President Biden repealed a controversial travel ban policy established by former President Trump that barred nationals from a group of mostly Muslim-majority and African countries from entering the United States.  Additionally, the new administration confirmed it will not impose new rules being prepared by the Trump administration to require all international higher education students to re-apply for a U.S. visa every 24 months.   

Higher education advocates in Washington, DC applauded these measures. The president of the American Council on Education, Ted Michell, spoke in very direct terms about how the previous administration’s policies erected significant legal and marketing barriers for international students hoping to study at U.S. higher education institutions (HEIs), citing a decline in new international students arriving in the U.S. to study since 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency. 

Key leaders in working in advocacy roles in international higher education in Washington report that they have confidence the Biden administration will continue to develop policies which will foster a positive climate for international students in the United States.  Biden has nominated Miguel Cardona as his nominee for Federal Secretary of Education.  Cardona’s graduate degrees are in multicultural and multilingual education and higher education leaders in Washington report that universities and other HEIs are being invited to consult and participate in the legislative process, a big shift from the previous administration.    Biden’s newly proposed immigration bill aims to ease the path to permanent residency for international students with STEM-related higher education qualifications from U.S. universities and allow their dependents to work in the United States.