Statement of the Board of Directors - The 2016 U.S. Elections




Rebecca Morgan, 202.495.2553,
Alan Fleming, 202.495.2528,

On May 30, 2016, the NAFSA Board of Directors unanimously approved the following statement on the 2016 U.S. Elections:

We, the Board of Directors of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, urge the next President and the next Congress to embrace policies that create a more welcoming and globally engaged United States. We urge our nation’s leaders to advance study abroad and international learning; welcome international students and advance commonsense immigration solutions; and demonstrate our commitment to global engagement by continuing forward progress on Cuba and offering education and aid to refugees.

Creating Internationally Educated U.S. Students

International education is an often underutilized means by which the United States can refine our foreign policy, improve our national security, strengthen our economy and promote mutual understanding and cooperation among nations. Unfortunately, too few students study abroad, and of those that do, nontraditional students, students of color, and those with limited financial means are disproportionately denied opportunities that would prepare them to participate and compete in a global marketplace. Our next President and the U.S. Congress must work to eliminate the international education divide that disadvantages huge swaths of citizens by shutting them out of vitally important learning.

Only about 1 percent of college students study abroad each year. To increase that figure, the next President and Congress should:

  • Prioritize study abroad and international learning experiences in each annual budget.
  • Advocate for the establishment of a federal program, such as the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program, to incentivize higher education institutions to increase and diversify study abroad opportunities.
  • Support programs such as the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which encourage public-private partnerships to advance study abroad.

Welcoming International Students

U.S. students benefit from studying alongside international students who bring immeasurable academic and cultural value to our campuses and local communities. In addition, NAFSA’s latest analysis finds that international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $30.5 billion and supported more than 373,000 jobs to the U.S. economy during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Unfortunately, many current U.S. immigration policies dissuade students from around the world from studying in the United States. The next President and Congress must champion comprehensive immigration reform that allows individuals freedom of movement and reflects our values as a nation.

To continue to attract international students, the next President and Congress must advocate for immigration reform that:

  • Eliminates the requirement that foreign students demonstrate they have no intention of staying, working, and contributing to our knowledge economy and local communities after they graduate.
  • Increases the availability of green cards and H-1B status.
  • Provides a path to citizenship for DREAMers.
  • Expedites the visa process for low-risk, known travelers.
  • Allows spouses and children of foreign students and scholars to engage in study and work opportunities.
  • Prioritizes predictable processing times and embraces technological improvements that improve immigration services.

In addition, the next administration should develop a proactive recruitment and marketing strategy for international students, including an initiative to attract a more geographically and economically diverse pool of international students.

Foreign Policy

Positive momentum is building toward the full restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, yet the travel ban and trade embargo still exist, making Cuba the only country that the U.S. government prevents its citizens from visiting.

The next administration should:

  • Embrace and expand on the recent positive steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba.
  • Urge Congress to quickly end the travel ban to Cuba and lift the embargo.

The next Congress should:

In addition, the next President and Congress should demonstrate the United States’ commitment to engage proactively with the rest of the world by offering aid to refugees from Syria and other countries devastated by war and violence by:

  • Increasing the U.S. commitment to resettle Syrian refugees, commensurate with Canada’s commitment of at least 100,000.
  • Streamlining the visa process for Syrian students.
  • Investing in education for displaced students who remain in neighboring countries.

We look forward to the opportunity to engage with presidential campaign advisors and congressional candidates to prepare the nation to move forward to create a more globally educated citizenry, and a thoughtfully engaged and welcoming United States.