BY Junya Hashimoto
NEW YORK – The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has indicated a policy of tightening the issuance of visas for foreign students, researchers, and media representatives on the grounds of security risk and begun considering changing the system. But some American press outlets have raised concerns that the move may have negative effects on academic exchange in the U.S.
In late September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposed a plan to change the system in order to tighten restrictions on the length of stay for the F visa for students, the J visa for visitors for academic exchanges, and the I visa for journalists. The plan envisages restricting the length of stay to a maximum of four years for the F and J visas and to 240 days for the I visa, which is currently valid for five years, with only a one-time extension.
The New York Times, an American newspaper, on Oct. 24 ran an editorial calling for the administration to scrap the plan to change the system, saying that the new visa limits would set back “openness,” which has been a U.S. strength, and would be a “self-inflicted wound” that would undermine the country’s interests. The newspaper also criticized the Trump administration for rushing to strengthen regulations ahead of the presidential election.
The U.S. government will accept public comments online until the night of Oct. 26 (noon of Oct. 27 Japan time) and finalize a policy after the deadline. It has received more than 26,000 public comments as of Oct. 25.
On Oct. 26, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association submitted a request to review the policy, saying that reporting on U.S. politics and society by resident correspondents who stayed in the country for a long period of time with the I visa “has played the important role of serving as a bridge between the two countries.”