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Proposed immigration rule could impact flight training

Public comments will be accepted through October 26 on the notice of proposed rulemaking published September 25 in the Federal Register.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeks to impose fixed time limits on F (academic student), J (exchange visitor), and I (foreign media representative) visas that are currently issued for unspecified periods, conditional on compliance with applicable visa requirements. The agency noted in the proposal that this “duration of status” (D/S) policy, first implemented in 1978, has led to significant increases in utilization. In 2019, the agency granted more than 1 million admissions to student visa holders, up from 263,938 under the previous policy in 1978.

Increased utilization of these visas “poses a challenge to the Department’s ability to monitor and oversee these categories of nonimmigrants while they are in the United States,” the agency noted in the rulemaking proposal. The proposed policy would impose fixed dates upon which the visa holder would be required to depart the country. Those who need to stay longer would be required to apply to DHS for approval to have their visa duration extended.

“Replacing admissions for D/S with admissions for a fixed period of authorized stay is consistent with most other nonimmigrant categories, would provide additional protections and oversight of these nonimmigrant categories, and would allow DHS to better evaluate whether these nonimmigrants are maintaining status while temporarily in the United States,” the agency wrote. “DHS does not believe such a requirement would place an undue burden on F, J, and I nonimmigrants.”

Many foreign students enrolled in collegiate and other professional pilot training programs in the United States complete their academic study before they fulfill their flight experience requirements, and the new policy may require such students to apply for a visa extension. AOPA is reviewing the rulemaking proposal.

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