The press release makes it all sound so wonderful:
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton today announced a new initiative to streamline the international student visa process for foreign students seeking to study in the United States. The Study in the States initiative is a key component of a government-wide effort to encourage the best and brightest foreign students to study and remain in the U.S.
“Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities is an important part of our nation’s economic, scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Foreign students and exchange visitors bring invaluable contributions to our nation, and the Study in the States initiative is an important step in empowering the next generation of international entrepreneurs, right here in America.”
More than 1.1 million active nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents study in our nation’s world class system of universities, exchange programs, and training opportunities. The Study in the States initiative will examine regulatory changes, expand public engagement between the government and academia, and provide a central on-line information hub for DHS and its agency partners to provide current and prospective students with updated and relevant visa requirements in a streamlined, user-friendly format.
“Study in the States encourages international students who seek the wealth of educational opportunities available in the U.S. to remain here following their studies and apply their new skills here in our country,” said ICE Director Morton. “We aim to strike a balance—providing an open and welcoming experience for international students and visitors seeking information, while maintaining the integrity and security of our visa process. This site is an important step toward reaching that goal.”
But it's one thing to issue press releases and web sites with helpful information. It's another far more difficult thing to change internal policies and a seemingly intractible mindset amongst examiners and officers who believe their primary mission is to keep as many people out of the country as they can and not do what's best for the country (though they probably believe that keeping as many people out IS what's best fot the country).
Just ask an immigration lawyer that handles EB-1 petitions for extraordinary ability aliens whether USCIS genuinely appears interested in attracting the best and brightest and you'll get an earful regarding a soaring denial rate for these petitions and jaw dropping examples of incredibly gifted individuals who are being humiliated and basically run out of the country. Director Mayorkas has held several stakeholders calls on this subject and knows about which I write, but there is little evidence he has had any ability to get the situation under control. Best of luck.
Until Secretary Napolitano, Director Mayorkas, Director Morton and senior officials across DHS can figure out how to truly change policies achieve the stated objectives and then actually get examiners carry out those policies either by incentivizing correct behavior or punishing failing to abide by stated policies, then you really have accomplished little.
Secretary Napolitano - don't just talk the talk. Show us you can walk the walk.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.