By Kiaya Wilson
International students are experiencing challenges during the Trump administration, and Western students are not immune.
Nine Chinese students attending Arizona State University were not given student visas to study in the United States when they tried to return to Arizona for fall semester, according to an Arizona Republic article. The students’ electronics were searched and they were told to buy their own tickets back to China.
“Some international students who were admitted to Western did not receive student visas from the U.S. government,” said Mary Beth Hartenstine, Western’s center director for Study Group, an international student recruiting program. “Therefore [they] were unable to come to Western this fall.”
Student visa approvals have been decreasing on a national scale over the last five years.
According to the U.S. Department of State annual report, there were almost 650,000 student visas given to people in 2015 but that number dropped to about 360,000 student visas in 2018.
“Four students [coming to Western through the Study Group program] out of thirteen total did not receive visas for fall quarter, 2019,” Hartenstine said.
The process of obtaining a student visa can take a long time and, according to a New York Times article, that process has been purposefully delayed. During the time of the Trump administration, students from several countries including China, Palestine and Ethiopia were denied student visas.
Once someone has been approved for a student visa, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent will check their documents and may ask them questions before they are allowed to enter the United States, Hartenstine said.
According to the Arizona Republic, the nine students returning to ASU were stopped by customs once they landed in Los Angeles International Airport. Border Protection checked their electronics and told them to return to China, without giving ASU an explanation as to why.
“Although the U.S. Department of State may issue the visa, it is ultimately up to the authority of CBP, part of Homeland Security, to decide whether to allow the student admission to the U.S,” Hartenstine said.
ASU’s president wrote a letter to the secretary of state expressing his disappointment over the students being sent home and requested information on why they were denied entry.
Since visa rejections happen on a national level, there isn’t much Western can do about it, Hartenstine added. However, since this has happened to several students, attending several different universities, there is a need for increased awareness of the issue.