USCIS Seeks Public Input to Strengthen Benefits and Services

On April 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Request for Public Input seeking the public’s comments on potential barriers that nonimmigrants, including international students and scholars, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients face when applying for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) benefits and services. USCIS, a sub-agency within DHS, oversees all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing services. Comments are due on May 19, 2021, and can be submitted through the Federal Register. To note, the Federal Register’s date is incorrect; USCIS has clarified that the deadline is May 19, 2021.

The announcement follows President Biden’s February 2, 2021, Executive Order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, which directs responsible Federal agencies to identify strategies that promote inclusion and identify barriers that impede access to immigration benefits. CGS continues to advocate for updated guidance that allows maximum flexibility for international students and exchange visitors seeking to pursue higher education at U.S. institutions.

Legislative Action Prioritizes Investments in Science and Research

On March 26, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), which would exponentially increase authorized agency funding to reach $13.3 billion in fiscal year 2026, beginning with a $2 billion increase in fiscal year 2022. The legislation would advance policies and funding to raise the bar for training, mentoring, and professional development of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and update the Graduate Research Fellowship program to address workforce demand, increase the cost of education allowance, and recruit a more diverse pool of applicants, among other provisions. A summary of the NSF for the Future Act is available here.


On April 21, Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reintroduced the bipartisan Endless Frontier Act, which would strengthen the U.S. innovation ecosystem by investing in the National Science Foundation and prioritizing diversity in the STEM fields and new technology.  Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) reintroduced the companion legislation in the House. First introduced in the 116th Congress, the legislation invests in U.S. technology, development, and research and has won bipartisan support in both chambers and approval from the White House. In June 2020, CGS endorsed both the House and Senate versions and is currently evaluating the updated legislation.

Secretary Cardona Participates in DACA Roundtable

On April 20, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona participated in a roundtable discussion with individuals representing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporarily Protected Status (TPS) communities. Students, educators, and school staff members joined the Secretary in discussing the challenges they faced when applying to college and the workforce and the need for a permanent solution that would protect their ability to live, work, and study in the U.S.


In the last months, the House of Representatives passed a number of bills that include actions to establish a pathway to citizenship for certain undocumented individuals. Most recently, the House passed the NO BAN Act (H.R. 1333), which would curb the Executive Branch’s power to implement immigration restrictions, such as whether to issue an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa on the basis of religion; it also includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. On April 20, the White House issued a notice of support for the legislation, including a call for action around the U.S. Citizenship Act, President Biden’s legislative proposal that would initiate sweeping immigration reform.

Public Policy Internship Opportunity at CGS

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) offers a master’s or doctoral student currently enrolled at a CGS member institution a paid, fully virtual summer internship opportunity that focuses on CGS’s efforts to influence public policy and government affairs on issues relevant to graduate education and research. The selected participant will gain insights into the legislative and regulatory processes and how CGS advocates within those frameworks. The internship will also provide opportunities to analyze federal policies related to CGS’s priorities, among other experiences. Additional information, including how to apply, is available here. CGS is also offering two other virtual summer internships for Broadening Participation in Graduate Education and Communications and Corporate Relations.

Department of Education Issues Guidance for States on Pandemic Relief Funding

On April 19, the Department of Education issued new guidance on maintenance of effort (MOE) spending requirements that states must follow if they received federal pandemic relief funds for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. The document outlines the differences in MOE requirements among the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act), and the American Rescue Plan Act; the process for states to request waivers from spending requirements embedded in the aforementioned laws; and frequently asked questions about MOE requirements.