GAISA Presses for Action from President-Elect Biden to Protect International Students

January 13, 2021

New Report from the Global Alliance for International Student Advancement Demonstrates Value of International Students for the U.S. and Urges Others to Join Advocacy Campaign

Boston, Massachusetts, Jan. 13, 2020 — Advocating for international higher-education students in the United States, the Global Alliance for International Student Advancement (GAISA) has released its first annual Foreign on Campus report, which asserts the value of international students, debunks myths related to these students, and includes an open letter to President-Elect Joe Biden. The report holistically addresses the importance of international students and empowers others to join in urging Mr. Biden to lift restrictions on foreign students as we move closer towards his inauguration on January 20th.

"Because international students often feel like outsiders on U.S. campuses, GAISA exists to amplify their voices and shine a light on what needs to change. We want to encourage healthy bipartisan conversations around policies that impact international students,” said Rich DeCapua, Ed.D., Founding President of GAISA. “This is a historic moment for the U.S. and an opportunity to make this country more welcoming of the diverse students who seek to attend our institutions." 

GAISA’s open letter presses the incoming Biden administration to do more than simply reverse the failures of previous administrations. It’s a call to action to seize this moment and embrace the talents, insights, and contributions the world’s students can offer America’s domestic students, institutions of higher education, communities, and economy. 

The letter lays out the following actions:


Do Now: First Steps for the New Administration

Repeal the Muslim Travel Ban. Students are mostly exempt from the ban, but many have experienced substantial delays in visa processing or renewals, causing them to miss entire semesters of study.

Reinstate DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows the students that qualify to receive the benefits of a U.S. resident. 

Drop Duration of Status Limits. A fixed duration of stay for international students disincentivizes them from choosing the U.S. to advance their fields. 

Repeal H-1B Restrictions. Restrictions to the H-1B visa program are a misguided attempt to protect American workers from non-citizen talent, but actually, diminish the competitive strength of the U.S. in the global market.


Do Next: Steps the New Administration Can Take Moving Forward

Introduce a Joint Commission for International Students. Leverage the talent and resources of the Departments of Education and Homeland Security to examine, normalize, and reimagine opportunities to advance U.S. higher education within the context of international relations. 

Intersectionality Matters. Advocate for it. Recognize and understand how intersecting identities shape lived experiences for international students.


Do More: Additional Steps the Next Administration Can Take 

Increase Access to Financial Aid. Currently, federal financial aid is only available to U.S. citizens, yet we charge international students up to three times more in annual tuition. Invest in needs-based financial aid for international students. 

Include International Students in Emergency Higher Education Relief Funding. Only Title IV-eligible students are eligible to receive emergency COVID-19 relief funding. This means higher education institutions must come up with emergency funds themselves for their international student communities — even if these students are taxpayers with valid Social Security numbers. 

Expand Work Rights for International Students. Currently, international students can only stay in the United States for 60 days following graduation, which is an inadequate amount of time to find employment and contribute to the U.S. economy.


"While the incoming Biden administration offers a reason to hope for the better treatment of international students, this is not guaranteed. Nor do we know how long it might take for meaningful change to be made," said Shams Vahedi, International Student and Faculty Advisor at Michigan State University and GAISA advisory council member. “Due to this uncertainty, it’s vital that we stand with international students and advocate forcefully for impactful changes from the new administration.”

GAISA understands there’s power in numbers, which is why the alliance is encouraging all those who teach, work with, and value international students to send letters to the Biden administration. GAISA will also continue to conduct in-depth research on the benefits of having international students at U.S. institutions. The 2021 GAISA Research Agenda includes studies in the following areas: Mental Health, Workforce Readiness, Academics, and Social and Cultural Experiences

Download your free copy of Foreign on Campus 2021 for access to GAISA’s letter, which you can sign and send to the address provided.


About The Global Alliance for International Student Advancement
The Global Alliance of International Student Advancement, GAISA, is building a new model of international student success in higher education through a student-centered, evidence-based approach to collaboratively cultivate and promote insights and resources that advance the outcomes of international students around the globe. For more information, please visit




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