While international students won’t be kicked out of the country, other immigration challenges lie ahead

Florida International University flags. Credit: FIU

Like thousands of International students relieved after the Trump administration rescinded controversial immigration rules, Florida International University senior Stephanie Rojas remains concerned about what lies ahead.

It’s true that she and other international students won’t have to leave the country for now, but Rojas still doesn’t know what the future holds.

She faces the same issues as many other international students who will be trying to find a job in the United States after graduation.

“Moving forward, I still think this situation may be an issue for international students trying to find a job,” Rojas said.

“It’s pretty hard to find a job for international students in the United States, and with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s hard for everyone. But I think that with all the tension involving these topics, it may be even harder for international students to find a job,” Rojas said.

“As I’m graduating next semester, I can’t help but to be concerned.”

International students were recently alarmed to find that the Trump Administration issued rules that would have forced those students to leave the United States if they were taking only online courses.

Following a multi-state lawsuit against the new regulations, filed by several state attorneys general, federal officials decided in a court hearing Tuesday to allow internationals students to remain in the country to attend classes fully online — even if their colleges aren’t offering in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lourdes Perez, media relations specialist at FIU in Miami, connected the Florida Phoenix to senior Stephanie Rojas – who is currently in her home country of Mexico for the summer — to share her feelings about the breaking news and what the future will bring amid the global pandemic.

“For me, I’m relieved that the ruling was rescinded as I have plans to go back to the United States at the beginning of the next month, and I was a little bit scared of maybe getting detained at the airport and (being) asked for more information regarding my status as an international student,” Rojas said.

Meanwhile, as many colleges and universities nationwide prepare to reopen schools, the higher education world may see a major drop in international student enrollment.

“U.S. consulate closures, travel bans and other difficulties will contribute to the low enrollment of international students,” a new report by the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit research organization.

That report, titled “Immigrants and America’s Comeback from the COVID-19 Crisis,” focuses on enrollment declines for international students.

The July analysis said that “in the Fall 2020, enrollment of new international students at U.S. universities could fall to the lowest level since after World War II.”

The number of international students enrolled at universities nationwide “in the Fall 2020-21 academic year is projected to decline 63 percent to 98 percent from the 2018-19 level, with between 6,000 to 12,000 new international students at the low range, and 87,000 to 100,000 at the high range.”

The report also points to immigrants’ valuable contributions to the U.S. economy and that Trump’s policies on immigration pose a threat to recovering from the economic impacts due to the pandemic.

“Restoring legal immigration to the level prior to when Trump administration policies reduced it will help America’s comeback from COVID-19 and enhance U.S. economic growth,” the report states.