Equity & Diversity

Law Puts Restrictions on Some Foreign Students

By Lynn Schnaiberg — January 22, 1997 3 min read

A little-noticed provision of the federal immigration law that went into effect this past November puts new restrictions on some foreign students who want to study in U.S. public schools.

The provision, part of the voluminous Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that President Clinton signed last fall, affects students who enter the United States on what is known as an F-1 visa. Generally, such students are not part of an organized student-exchange program.

The new law bars foreign students from receiving F-1 visas to study in public elementary and middle schools, grades K-8. Foreign students who wish to study in U.S. public high schools must pay the local school district for their education--and show proof of such payment--before being allowed to enter the country. They can attend the high school for no more than a year.

The change in law may take school administrators by surprise.

“I don’t think the majority of the tens of thousands of schools out there are aware of this new requirement,” said Andrew J. Prazuch, the director of government relations for NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a Washington-based professional association whose members are primarily from higher education. “No one knows how many people will be affected by this either.”

Students on F-1 visas are considered temporary visitors to the United States. They must prove that they intend to enter this country only to study and that they do not intend to abandon their permanent residence in a foreign country.

The law does not affect students in formal exchange programs; those students generally enter the United States on a “J” visa.

It is unclear, however, how much of an impact the provision will have on K-12 public schools. In fiscal 1995, the latest year for which statistics are available, the U.S. Department of State issued 248,645 F-1 visas. The department does not track how many of the visa holders are attending public or private K-12 schools. But some experts said the majority of F-1 students are enrolled in higher education programs--for which they already pay tuition.

‘Parachute Kids’ Cited

The new law affects students who receive an F-1 visa or have their visa status extended after Nov. 29, 1996. But questions remain about how federal officials will enforce the provision because regulations have yet to be written.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and then-U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson, R-Wyo., proposed the measure late in the legislative process. A spokesman for Ms. Feinstein said she offered the provision after hearing about “parachute kids.” The term refers primarily to wealthy Asian children whose parents send them to top public schools in California to learn English, gain solid academic footing, and, in some cases, avoid mandatory military service in their home countries.

Some students live with relatives or family friends; others live on their own. Some experts estimate that as many as 40,000 such students are living in the United States, though many argue that there are no accurate figures. Many such students are thought to have entered the country on tourist visas and by other means, not F-1 student visas.

Ms. Feinstein was told by law-enforcement officials that many such children were being recruited by gangs, the senator’s spokesman said.

She was also concerned that students who received visas to enroll in private schools could then transfer to public schools and attend them at taxpayer expense. The new law makes it illegal for foreign students who receive F-1 visas to study in a private school to then transfer to a public school, unless they pay for the education and follow the one-year time limit.

During debate over the immigration bill, most education groups were focused on a highly controversial provision that would have given states the option of denying free public education to illegal immigrant students. The so-called Gallegly amendment, named for its sponsor, U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., dominated much of the debate and drew a threat from President Clinton to veto any bill that contained it. The amendment eventually died. (“School Provision Stripped From Immigration Bill,” Oct. 2, 1996.)

In contrast, the F-1 provision “went through with relatively little or no fanfare,” Mr. Prazuch said. “Everyone was so focused on Gallegly and other provisions.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion When Does Educational Equity Become Educationally Unethical?
Equity stumbles into a truly gruesome place when educators are directed to shortchange students based on how they look or where they live.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion Why More Teachers Need to See the Beauty and Brilliance in Black Girls
Black girls are often accused of being loud or having an attitude. We need teachers to change that harmful perspective, because it matters.
Bola Delano-Oriaran
5 min read
Black Girls Misunderstood
Shutterstock
Equity & Diversity Anti-Asian Violence: What Schools Should Start Doing About It
Asian-Americans are often erased from the curriculum and even from schools' social justice work. Five educators discuss how to change that.
The crowd at Hing Hay Park responds to speakers calls to "fight hate"and against the attacks, physical and verbal on Asian Americans during a rally to speak out against anti-Asian hate and violence on March 13, 2021 in Seattle.
A crowd at Hing Hay Park in Seattle protests physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans during a rally earlier this month.
Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion We Ignore the Pain of Black Children
We need to stop criminalizing Black children. And that starts with how we view school safety, writes pediatrician Rebekah Fenton.
Rebekah Fenton
5 min read
Silhouettes of police officer and young student
F. Sheehan/Education Week and Getty