Trump administration moves to limit student visa stays over fraud, national security concerns

The new rule would limit student visas to either two or four years

The Trump administration has announced a rule limiting the open-ended stay for international students from countries, amid concerns about overstays, fraud and potential risks to national security.

The new rule, proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, would allow those coming into the U.S. onto an F or J nonimmigrant visa to be limited to a stay of four years. Currently students are allowed to remain in the country as long as they can show that their period of study is ongoing.

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The rule submission says that, currently, “admitting a nonimmigrant for duration of status creates a challenge to the Department's ability to efficiently monitor and oversee these nonimmigrants, because they may remain in the United States for indefinite periods of time without being required to have immigration officers periodically assess whether they are complying with the terms and conditions of their status.”

The department says it is concerned "about the integrity of the  programs and a potential for increased risk to national security."

Those from countries associated with higher overstay rates would be limited to just two years -- something DHS says it to increase monitoring and to deter violations and overstays. Those students would be able to apply for extensions.

Students could also be limited to a two-year stay if the immigrant is from a country on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list -- so students from Iran, Syria, North Korea and Sudan -- as could other students depending on the accreditation of the school they are attending.

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“This effort would create a fixed time period of admission for certain aliens, consistent with most other temporary visa classifications, while still allowing these aliens an opportunity to legally extend their stay or re-apply for admission where appropriate,” Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

“Amending the relevant regulations is critical in improving program oversight mechanisms; preventing foreign adversaries from exploiting the country’s education environment; and properly enforcing and strengthening U.S. immigration laws,” he said.

Student visas have long been an area of concern when it comes to immigration and national security. One of the 9/11 attackers entered the U.S. on a student visa.

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The agency said the growth of student visa programs has made the update necessary. In its filing it says there was more than a million admissions on the F visa alone, compared to 263,938 admitted in 1978.

The proposal now goes through a 30-day comment period.