On April 13, 2021, TIEC sent a letter on behalf of Texas universities to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging encouraging the department to resume visa processing for international students at embassies and consulates around the world.
The letter was cosigned by the presidents of ten Texas universities including: Dr. Lawrence Schovanec of Texas Tech University, Dr. Pablo Arenaz of Texas A&M International University, Dr. Teik Lim of The University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Taylor Eighmy of The University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Suzanne Shipley of Midwestern State University, Dr. Richard Benson of The University of Texas at Dallas, Dr. Linda Livingstone of Baylor University, Dr. Mark Hussey of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Dr. Ken Evans of Lamar University, and Dr. George Martin of St. Edward’s University.
International students and scholars are vital elements to an American campus. Some students in Texas universities don’t have the opportunity to leave their state, let alone the country. Interacting with international peers can be exciting and challenging – communicating, listening, understanding. These interactions contribute directly to students’ diversity and growth in perspective.
The economic impact is also too important to overlook In Texas alone, international students contribute $2 billion and 22,000 jobs to our economy. TIEC is grateful to members of our board and advisory council who came together to respectfully request Secretary Blinken resume visa adjudication for international students.
The full text of TIEC’s letter is below. We hope it is helpful for those in this community who want to take action and have not yet.
TIEC encourages universities and stakeholders to tell your legislators how important international students and scholars are to your campus. Below is a sample letter for use by your congressional representative.
FULL TEXT OF TIEC’S LETTER TO U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE BLINKEN
The Honorable Antony Blinken
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Secretary
CC: The Honorable Brian McKeon, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Budget
Ian Brownlee, Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs
Matt Lussenhop, Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs
April 13, 2021
Dear Secretary Blinken,
Congratulations on your post and to the Biden administration for its many successes thus far.
As presidents of Texas universities and current board and advisory council members of the Texas International Education Consortium, we represent a network of 30 Texas and global universities devoted to robust international education partnerships and programs. In Texas alone, our consortium serves some 500,000 students and more than 32,000 faculty from across all six systems of higher education, plus independent public and private institutions.
We have been heartened by your words of support for U.S. public diplomacy and the power of people-to-people exchange. With this in mind, we are writing to urge your immediate action to resume visa processing at embassies and consulates around the world. Time is of the essence if our universities are to have a chance at welcoming international students this fall. We know the importance of international education to the Department of State, and we are urging your action to bring this vital sector back to life.
As vaccine production and administration are increasing, we understand a number of other destination countries of choice for international students are processing student visa applications. With U.S. visa processing all but halted for academic categories, U.S. universities will face another year of little to no international students and scholars. This is devastating for our universities. Research relies on international cooperation, U.S. students are positively benefited by global diversity on campus, our universities are greatly supported by the tuition and know-how international students contribute, and our lack of internationalization negatively impacts our global rankings.
We are aware Consular Affairs is operating under difficult circumstances and prioritizing American Citizen Services and immigrant visas. We do not object to this prioritization. We also understand posts that are able to process non-immigrant visas are prioritizing students and exchange program participants. We appreciate the recognition of the immense value of these travelers to both the U.S. economy and our public diplomacy, but too many posts simply are not offering non-immigrant visa appointments at all. Being first in line has no value if the line goes nowhere. We urge you to direct Consular Affairs to find ways, such as through video conferencing or videotelephony tools to resume visa adjudication for all F-1 and J-1 academic categories at every embassy and consulate.
We do not make this request lightly, but universities have proven themselves effective at containing the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security both have systems in place to exercise oversight and monitoring over sponsors of J-1 and F-1 visas.
Finally, with the lapsing of Presidential Proclamation 10052 on March 31, we hope to see students, scholars, and professors exempted from any 212f or other broad prohibitions to entry and allowed individualized determinations. To do otherwise is to severely harm one of the U.S.’s strongest attributes.
Thank you for considering this request and do not hesitate to call upon us if we can be of assistance.
Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech University, Chair, TIEC Board of Directors
Dr. Pablo Arenaz, Texas A&M International University, Vice Chair, TIEC Board of Directors
Dr. Teik Lim, The University of Texas at Arlington
Dr. Taylor Eighmy, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Suzanne Shipley, Midwestern State University
Dr. Richard Benson, The University of Texas at Dallas
Dr. Linda Livingstone, Baylor University
Dr. Mark Hussey, Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Dr. Ken Evans, Lamar University
Dr. George Martin, St. Edward’s University