Policy Recommendations: Attracting and Maintaining Talented International Students and Scholars

International students, scholars, and their families are a vital asset to the United States’ academic and scientific innovation, economic vitality, future security, and global leadership. They also:

  • Contribute billions of dollars each year to the U.S. economy (see the dollars broken down by state and congressional district);
  • Bring global perspectives to our classrooms and innovation to our labs; and
  • Make it possible for universities and colleges to offer advanced STEM courses and other programming and services for all students on campus.

But the United States is at risk of losing these contributions without comprehensive immigration reform and other policy changes. While the number of internationally mobile students has doubled over the last decade, the United States has lost nearly 10% of its market share of international students due to increased competition from other countries with friendlier immigration policies.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators has long advocated for policy changes to end this decline. While there have been some incremental successes over the years, many of NAFSA’s recommendations still remain critical to increasing the numbers of talented international students in the United States. Some of these changes require congressional action, while others should be implemented at the executive or agency levels.

Key Policy Recommendations

  • Remove requirement for students to prove non-immigrant intent;
  • Develop a proactive recruitment and marketing strategy for international students, coordinating relevant federal agencies;
  • Revise visa interview policy, expediting the process for low-risk, known travelers;
  • Reform employment-based immigration policy, increasing green card and H-1B availability; and
  • Improve management and coordination within the Department of Homeland Security.

Timeline of International Students and Scholars Activity

NAFSA's international students and scholars advocacy has focused on advancing policies that support an open and welcoming environment for ISS.

Review these successes on this interactive timeline.

In-Depth Reports

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