41 Education Organizations Urge US Government to Support Afghan Students

Afghanistan United States Asia Higher Education News by Erudera News Sep 30, 2021

United States

A group of 41 US education organizations has urged the US government to support Afghan students and scholars who have been displaced by conflict in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country.

In their letter, they note that talented students and scholars, including many women, who were pursuing academic careers before the Taliban takeover, are now facing many challenges, Erudera.com reports.

“Some who were already in the United States are now concerned about how to continue to pay for or begin an education at a U.S. institution of higher education. Others are located in countries outside of Afghanistan and hope to study in the United States, while still others remain in Afghanistan and seek to continue or start their education in the United States,” the letter reads.

Organizations have urged, among others, to remove the non-immigrant intent for F-1, M-1, and J-1 student and scholar visa programs for Afghan students, pointing out that Afghan students applying to study in the US have been denied a student visa as they could not provide reasons to return to Afghanistan after their studies.

“If non-immigrant intent cannot be removed, the requirement should be satisfied by an intent to return when conditions in Afghanistan are normalized or to return to a third country,” the letter adds.

Other suggestions on how Congress could support Afghan students and scholars in future legislation include providing additional USAID funding to support Afghans who left their country on P-2 status and are currently in third countries, waiting to move to the United States.

Furthermore, organizations have required the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to waive the current rules around off-campus work for Afghan student visa holders by introducing special student relief for Afghan students in F and J status.

The letter also highlights that many US institutions have already expressed readiness to support displaced students by raising scholarship funds, placing scholars in US graduate programs, and offering various options to students to transfer credits from their universities in Afghanistan.

They added that USCIS and DOS need additional funding to process Afghan visas and green card applications.

On August 18, in cooperation with more than 150 higher education institutions, networks, associations, as well as more than 3,500 students and professionals, Scholars at Risk (SAR) has sent a letter to the US government calling on them to urgently intervene in helping Afghan students, scholars, and civil society.

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