Biden Administration Withdraws Proposed Rule on Duration of Status

On July 6, President Biden’s administration withdrew the proposed rule that would have revised Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations governing the length of stay for F, J, and certain I visa holders. The proposed rule, published in September 2020, aimed to replace duration of status admission period with a fixed time-period. During the public comment period of this rulemaking, advocates and stakeholders authored over 32,000 comments, with 99 percent opposing the proposed rule and most requesting its withdrawal. Those submitting comments raised concerns about discrimination based on nationality; a significant increase of burden and expenses to foreign students and representatives; and an increased burden on US employers due to shortened visa timelines of employees. Less than 1 percent of those submitting comments expressed support, sharing concerns for espionage, illegal immigration, and negative impacts on the US workforce.

In February 2021, President Biden issued an executive order regarding immigration titled, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.” In the notice of withdrawal published to the Federal Register, DHS expressed continued interest in protecting the integrity of programs that admit nonimmigrants in the F, J, and I classifications and may engage in future rulemaking to continue protections. In October 2020, CGS sent public comments to DHS opposing the proposed rule and calling for its removal. CGS shared its concerns for the “extension of stay process” and the proposed changes to Optional Practical Training. Also in October, CGS joined the higher education community in sending public comments to the department in opposition to the rule and requesting that the department withdraw it.

CGS Government Affairs Activity

On June 28, CGS joined a community letter to the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee recommending Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 funding amounts for Higher Education Act (HEA)-Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs. The letter recommends that the subcommittee includes $151.4 million in funding for International Education and Foreign Language Studies, including $134.3 million for HEA-Title VI and $17.1 million for Fulbright-Hays programs.


On July 1, CGS joined a community letter to the Department of Education providing written comment regarding the department’s negotiated rulemaking on programs under Title IV of the HEA. The letter offers recommendations for federal student aid programs that promote opportunity for all students as well as bolster institutional efforts and support data driven, targeted measures. Topics in the letter include certification procedures for Title IV HEA program participation; clear and transparent processes for borrower defense to repayment and discharges for borrowers with a total and permanent disability; and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.


On July 1, Amy Scott joined the CGS Government Affairs department as the associate vice president of government relations and public policy. On July 13, CGS members and affiliates will have the opportunity to meet Amy at the upcoming CGS 2021 Virtual Summer Workshop during the session, “Public Policy in the Biden Era: What’s Next for Graduate Education?”

FY22 Appropriations Hearings Continue Next Week

On July 12, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. Also on July 12, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the FY22 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. Both events will be livestreamed for public view. CGS will keep its members apprised as appropriations actions continue. All CGS resources and requests on FY22 are available here.

Requests for Extended Loan Pause Increase

On June 30, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to President Biden urging the Administration to extend student loan relief granted during the pandemic through early 2022. Currently, the pause in student loan payments and interest accrual is set to expire on September 30, 2021. Senator Murray, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Congressman Scott, chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, call for the continued pause in the collection of student loan payments and interest, noting the “tens of millions of student loan borrowers” affected. The letter suggests that the Biden administration “extend the pause for a limited period to provide the Department of Education with time to conduct a necessary outreach campaign, which will educate and remind borrowers of their upcoming obligation and provide them with a lead time before payments become due.”


On July 1, CGS signed onto community comments to the Department of Education regarding federal student aid programs under Title IV. The letter underscores the necessary steps the department and loan servicers must take to prepare borrowers for the resumption of payments “to ensure that borrowers are not unduly or inappropriately harmed in the transition.”


On July 8, an internal source at the Department of Education shared that the agency will recommend that the White House extend the pause on federal student loan payments through January 2022. The White House has not yet announced an official stance on the restart of loan repayments. CGS will keep members apprised as the Administration issues official statements on student loan payments.

Department of Education Announces Biden-Harris Appointees, Senate Confirmation Hearings Continue

On July 6, the Department of Education announced a group of diverse, experienced political appointees to lead various offices across the agency. Among them, Toby Merrill has been appointed to serve as the department’s deputy general counsel. Merrill previously founded and directed the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center at Harvard University’s School of Law. In the Office of Postsecondary Education, Antoinette Flores has been appointed to serve as the senior advisor for the implementation of the American Rescue Plan. Flores comes from the Center for American Progress where she worked as the managing director for postsecondary education. The full list of appointees is available here.


On July 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing to consider nominees President Biden has tapped for appointment at the Department of Education. The hearing will consider Catherine Lhamon to serve as assistant secretary for civil rights, Lisa Brown to be the agency’s general counsel, and Roberto Rodríguez to be assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development.

NSF Announces Upcoming Program Due Dates and Encourages International Research Partnership

On July 7, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced updates to the NSF ADVANCE program, including a timeline of proposal deadlines. The ADVANCE program encourages the submission of proposals that advance organizational change for gender equity in STEM academic professions and seeks to “broaden the implementation of evidence-based systemic change strategies that promote equity for STEM faculty in academic workplaces and the academic profession.” The full solicitation, including updated information, is available here.


On July 2, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) published a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which marks a Memorandum of Understanding on Research Cooperation and encourages collaboration between the US and UK research communities. The DCL serves as a solicitation for US-UK collaborative projects in the following topical areas: biological informatics; microbes and the host immune system; quantum biology; and synthetic cell. Letters of intent are due on September 22, 2021. Full information on proposal preparation and submission, among other topics, is available here.