African students in the United States may be forced to reapply for visas in the middle of their courses if proposed new US immigration measures sail through.
Student visas are currently valid for as long as students are enrolled in their courses of study.
The plan, issued by the Department for Homeland Security, would limit the validity period to two years for certain immigrants under the theory that it will be easier to identify security threats and monitor compliance.
The U.S DHS cites as an example of one student who has remained in the U.S on a student visa since 1991 to attend a dance school. It does not say how many students have used student visas in similar ways.
According to the Department, whereas students from many countries will be allowed to get a four-year visa, there are others who will be limited to two years “due to heightened concerns related to fraud, abuse, and national security”.
Citizens and people born in countries – including Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea – listed by the US as state sponsors of terror will be affected but by far the largest group are those from 55 countries who have had more than 10% of their citizens overstay their visas.
This includes Nigeria, which in 2019 had an overstay rate of 13% according to government data.
Other countries affected include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Liberia, Malawi and Uganda.
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