Payments company Flywire is petitioning the US State Department to take tackle the issue of student visa offices being closed due to the Covid-19 crisis and help to ensure international students can get the visas they need in time for fall 2020.
"It's time to prepare for all scenarios and give studentswhat they need to continue their international education"
During the 2018/2019 school year, more than a million international students attended schools in the US, contributed nearly $41 billion to the economy and provided an important source of talent to local businesses.
“This is just the first step in our campaign to influence critical policy change”
“As of now, that will all go away for the 2020/21 school year…[and] Flywire wants to do something about it,” a statement from the company read.
As student visa offices are shuddered due to the Covid-19 crisis, Flywire continued, “this leaves school administrators unsure how to plan for the fall 2020 semester and international students unable to secure necessary visas for the fall—in the event that campuses open”.
Among its requests, Flywire is petitioning the US State Department to:
- Provide a clear statement recognising the importance of international students to US institutions and the broader economy
- Commit to finding solutions such that international students can get the visas they need for this fall in a clear and timely fashion (subject to ensuring the plans are consistent with the health and safety of all stakeholders)
- Make clear and regular communications on the plans and timing of making visas available to new students, as well as modifications in support of previously issued student visas
- Place a high priority on the issuance of student visas and conducting consular student interviews (or waiving such interviews this year) so as to allow students and institutions sufficient time to plan for the fall 2020 semester
To date, the petition has received almost 2,000 signatures with the aim of reaching 2,500.
“While understanding that all decisions need to be based on a comprehensive assessment of global health and other conditions, the longer regulators wait to address visa requirements, the more students risk missing out on their ability to restart their 2020 school year in the US,” the statement continued.
“It’s time to prepare for all scenarios and give students and institutions what they need to continue their international education in this new reality.”
Flywire CEO, Mike Massaro, told The PIE News that the business is excited to see early momentum behind the Save Overseas Studies petition.
“But this is just the first step in our campaign to influence critical policy change at both the state and federal levels to ensure US universities reopen in the fall, consistent with public health guidelines, and that international students obtain and extend student visas as soon as possible so they can resume studies when it’s safe to do so,” he added.
Based on input from institutions, industry associations and global student communities, Flywire has also laid out guidance for universities to help navigate the economic and operational obstacles posed by the crisis.
“As institutions navigate the complexities of the coronavirus and prepare for various reopening scenarios, Flywire is committed to working to ensure that higher education is considered a priority sector among the key decision-makers between the public and private sectors,” added Massaro.