Can Chinese Students Still Expect to Get Visas to Study in the United States?

Can Chinese Students Still Expect to Get Visas to Study in the United States?

The FINANCIAL -- What will happen if the trade war between the U.S. and China escalates? These questions are on the minds of U.S. universities and Chinese students – but the answers should also worry American students and businesses.

The Financial Times surprised observers when it reported that earlier this year the Trump administration considered banning all Chinese students from the United States. “Stephen Miller, a White House aide who has been pivotal in developing the administration’s hardline immigration policies, pushed the president and other officials to make it impossible for Chinese citizens to study in the U.S.,” according to the newspaper.

The administration is not big on historical symbolism but others have pointed out such a policy would seem like a new version of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. To put in perspective how radical it would be to ban all Chinese students from studying in America, over 350,000 Chinese nationals studied at U.S. universities in the 2016-17 academic year, representing one-third of all international students in the U.S., according to the Institute of International Education.

The impact on U.S. universities, students and companies of banning Chinese students would be significant. It would lead to fewer academic programs of many types being available for U.S. students. Even a small recent decline in Chinese student enrollment at the University of Illinois “might affect the in-state scholarships it can offer,” according to Kevin Pitts, the university’s vice provost for undergraduate education.

For companies, it will certainly mean moving more resources outside the United States to hire and place Chinese students, who would now be educated in other countries.