What colleges need to know about Trump's new travel ban, all in one place

International students in limbo

On Monday, President Trump signed a new executive order temporarily blocking citizens from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. 

The order is a revised version of a previous immigration-related order, which encountered legal resistance and has been repealed.

Below, the EAB Daily Briefing team rounds up the key facts about the new order for higher education leaders.

What the order does:

  • Bans new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days;
  • Suspends the refugee program for 120 days;
  • Caps the number of refugees accepted at 50,000, less than half of the cap set by the Obama administration; and
  • Identifies specific sets of people who may apply for waivers.

Key changes from the original order:

  • Names one fewer country (Iraq is omitted) for visa restrictions;
  • Blocks only new visas—visas issued before March 16 will remain valid;
  • Omits any restrictions on permanent residents;
  • Eliminates the order to halt Syrian refugee resettlement;
  • Eliminates references to persecuted religious minorities; and
  • Expands the national security basis for the order.

People who may apply for waivers include individuals who:

  • Have been previously admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity;"
  • Have "significant business or professional obligations;" and
  • Plan to visit or live with family.

Effects on higher ed

International students and scholars in limbo: International education experts say the ban poses serious challenges to students and scholars from the six named countries who were planning to enroll in U.S. colleges this fall. Roughly 17,500 students and scholars come to the United States each year from the affected countries. Experts say the 90-day freeze on visas could make it impossible for them to arrive in time for the first day of classes, which could affect enrollment and yield. "There are a lot of unknowns, a lot of anxiety," says an international education official at Wayne State University.

International enrollment likely to slow down under Trump, experts say

International recruitment challenges: Some colleges told the Chronicle of Higher Education that they've seen international applications decline, and others said they worry about yield. Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, acknowledged the new order's narrower scope, but said it "still creates a climate where it is far more difficult for international students and scholars to view this country as a welcoming place for study and research."

Campus climate: Some colleges worry about the message the executive order sends to current students on campus and prospective students worldwide. Northwestern University recently emailed international applicants from all countries to assure them the campus would be a "welcoming community."

(Zapotosky et al., Washington Post, 3/6; Thrush, New York Times, 3/6; Savage, New York Times, 3/6; Fischer, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/6; Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 3/7).

Related: 17 best practices for supporting international students

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