St. John’s University President Advocates for International Students

Fr Shanley Speaking To Students
April 8, 2021

A letter signed by a consortium of college presidents from across New York State, including Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of St. John’s University, urges immediate action by the federal government to allow for a greater number of international students to return to New York campuses for the Fall 2021 semester.

The letter asks US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security  Alejandro Mayorkas to take immediate steps to stem the continued decline of international student enrollment at colleges and universities in the United States due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Since April and May are critical months for the processing of student visas, international students must make decisions now to apply for student visas to ensure approval in advance of the fall semester. Presently, many embassies and consular officers around the world remain closed and are unable to process international student visas.

“St. John’s is a global university located in a global city, and our metropolitan campuses are enhanced by the presence of international students,” stated Fr. Shanley. “International students foster a diverse campus environment and enrich the academic experience of all students with varied cultural perspectives and life lessons.”

The April 7 letter urges the federal government to

  • open the embassy and consulates in China for F-1 student visa appointments and processing, consistent with US Department of State procedures in countries throughout the world.
  • allow consular officers to either waive the requirement for an in-person interview or if a waiver is unavailable, allow for online interviews if consulates are unable to reopen safely to allow for the timely processing of visas.
  • consider authorizing a student exemption, even as travel restrictions continue for several countries and regions.

International student enrollment is critical to the success of American colleges and universities and the economic impact of allowing more international students back into the US is essential to local economies. New international student enrollment was on a decline before the COVID-19 pandemic; the slide has been exacerbated by the ongoing effects of the global public health crisis. According to an economic impact analysis by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students studying at US colleges and universities contributed $38.7 billion to and supported 415,996 jobs to the US economy during the 2019–20 academic year.