The United States government has released a new proposal to restrict Nigerian students and students from several other countries to only a 2-year study visa.
The US Department of Homeland Service announced the new measures on Thursday with a long list of affected countries, including nations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Americas.
The new proposal is based on a 10 per cent threshold of overstay. If within a given year, more than 10 per cent of the students from a particular country stays in the USA longer than their visa term, all citizens of that country are barred from obtaining a four-year visa in the US.
Students that would be affected by the new measures, if approved, include citizens of countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List (Iran, Syria, Sudan, PRK – North Korea), and unaccredited school (schools that don't use E-Verify).
People who want to oppose the rule have only Friday to provide comments in opposition to the directive, according to the Department of Homeland Service.
Aside from the intended restriction on students from countries that have been placed in the overstay bracket, the new immigration policy seeks to end 'duration of status' visas for international students, exchange visitors, and international media," policy council adviser at the non-partisan American Immigration Council, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick explained on Twitter.
"Students would be limited to visas that last 2-4 years, with extensions allowed," Reichlin-Melnick wrote.
Explaining the intention behind the new proposal, the immigration lawyer said, "The vast majority of these countries would be banned from 4-year-degrees based on this overstay provision. It's collective punishment.
"Here's the best example I can give for why collective punishment based on visa overstay rates is arbitrary and cruel. In 2019, six students from Tuvalu were supposed to leave the US. One didn't. As a result, the visa overstay rate was 17%—meaning all Tuvaluans would be punished," he tweeted.
The full list of countries whose citizens have overstayed their visas in the USA and are subject to the new rule if it comes into effect are Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (DRC), Congo (ROC), Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon and The Gambia.
Others are Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan.
The rest are Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zambia.
According to Reichlin-Melnick, any citizens of these countries who intend to stay beyond the two allotted years can apply for multiple visa extensions.
Approval of the proposal is not certain and can be expensive, he added.
The Trump administration has made reducing the flow of migrants into the US one of his top priorities.
Earlier in the year, his government released a directive to international students whose courses are online to leave the US or transfer to schools that have in-person classes.