National Science Board Releases Statement on Security and Science
The National Science Board (NSB) issued a statement regarding open research and national security issues. The statement reaffirms the principle behind National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD-189), which says: “The strength of American science requires a research environment conducive to creativity, an environment in which the free exchange of ideas is a vital component.” NSB also calls on U.S. universities and colleges to help “promote scientific openness and integrity and safeguard information that impacts national security and economic competitiveness.” The full National Science Board statement can be found here.
Lawsuit Filed to Challenge “Unlawful Presence” Policy
Guilford College, The New School, Foothill-De Anza Community College, and Haverford College filed suit last week in the Middle District of North Carolina to challenge the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy on Accrual of Unlawful Presence. The policy, effective August 9, 2018, fundamentally changes the way the federal government calculates visa overstays for international students and visiting scholars on F, J and M visas. International students are typically admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status,” which means they can remain in the country lawfully as long as they do not violate the terms of their immigration status. Previously, a student would only accrue “unlawful presence” time if issued an official notice by the Department of Homeland Security or an immigration judge alerting them to a status violation.
Under the new policy, unlawful presence time can be applied retroactively and backdated to the day the student first fell out of status, even without notification of an alleged violation. Individuals who accrue more than 180 days of unlawful presence before departing the United States can be barred from re-entering the country for a period of three or 10 years. APLU and partner organizations submitted joint comments in response to the initial policy memo announcing the change, which was not made through the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment rulemaking process. More from Inside Higher Ed.
Coalition Letter on Changes to High-Skilled Immigration Policies
The Compete America Coalition, of which APLU is a member, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding recent changes to the high-skilled immigration system made through extra-regulatory or sub-regulatory actions outside of notice-and-comment rulemaking. The letter expresses concern with five particular policy memos that have been issued over the past year that have made substantive changes to employment-based immigration including the aforementioned Unlawful Presence policy. The letter also raises concerns with new policies on Requests for Evidence and Notice of Intent to Deny (known as RFEs and NOID), Notice to Appear (NTA), and the suspension of premium processing for highly educated foreign professionals working in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher.
DHS Publishes New International Student Data
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), published new data on international students studying in the United States in the 2017 calendar year. The data was extracted from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which monitors information about international students and exchange visitors while they are in the U.S. The data sets include information on the top institutions hosting international students on F-1 visas and the top institutions with students participating in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The data also includes information on the top employers with pre- and post-completion students participating in the Curricular Practical Training (CPT), OPT and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics OPT, as well as the total numbers of students enrolled in all three experiential learning programs.
New NIFA Director Sworn In
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue swore in Dr. Scott Angle as the new Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at NIFA’s DC office. Dr. Angle’s background includes serving as the president and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center. Angle also served as dean and director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia. Prior to that, his experience included working with the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station and Maryland Cooperative Extension at the University of Maryland.
ESC Thank You Letters on DOE Research and Innovation Act
The Energy Sciences Coalition (ESC) sent thank you letters to leadership of the House Science and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees expressing appreciation for advancing the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (H.R. 589), which became law on September 28, 2018. The legislation, which is the first comprehensive policy authorization in 11 years for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, includes provisions that will support DOE technology transfer activities; authorize Energy Innovation Hubs; better coordinate Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and private sector activities; establish a program for advanced scientific computing research and National Laboratory-industry-university partnerships; authorize biological systems science research; and improve the safety, efficiency, and mission readiness of infrastructure at Office of Science laboratories.
President Trump Signs Opioids Bill
President Trump signed the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) into law. The comprehensive bill incorporates key provisions from the Treatment, Education, and Community Help (TEACH) to Combat Addiction Act, for which the APLU Council on Governmental Affairs Opioids Task Force provided input. The new law includes provisions aimed at supporting the nation’s addiction treatment workforce in high-need areas; extending treatment- prescribing authority for certain health professionals; and changing telehealth restrictions for rural areas, among others.