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Foreign Students Report Being Barred From Entry

FILE - Sign points to a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., March 26, 2019.
FILE - Sign points to a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., March 26, 2019.

International students continue to report difficulties trying to enter the United States, despite a win last week by universities to clear the way.

“Heads up returning F-1 students,” immigration lawyer Greg Siskind tweeted Wednesday. “I am hearing numerous instances of @CBP ports of entry, pre-flight inspection offices and @TravelGov consulates ignoring the Harvard/MIT settlement and denying visas/entry for returning F-1s at schools staying online.”

Last week, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, citing a rule that said international students had to be in person on campus for fall classes or risk losing their visa status.

Many schools switched to online-only classes earlier this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus. The universities argued that mandating students to be on campus in person was a health and safety risk.

But on the day the federal judge was set to rule, U.S. immigration agencies rescinded their directive that would have barred international students from maintaining their visas if they did not continue their studies in person in the United States. More than 1 million international students are enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.

One traveler tweeted that their F-1 student visa was approved at the airport, but another traveler was denied because they lacked proof their university was conducting classes in person.

“Better carrying some sort of proof from the university stating that lessons are hybrid,” tweeted user @marcodstella on July 22.

Other students traveling to the United States posted on Twitter that they, too, were asked to show proof that their universities offered hybrid – and not online only – enrollment to board.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection operates 16 pre-clearance locations in six countries: Ireland, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the United Arab Emirates, Aruba and Canada, according to the CBP website.

All passengers boarding U.S.-bound flights at those 16 locations go through a CBP pre-clearance at the point of departure. When they arrive in the U.S., they are examined at another CBP inspection.

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs stated on its website that students traveling from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas would not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual national interest exception.

“Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel,” the update read.

A national interest exception to travel sidesteps presidential proclamations, according to the State Department, to “assist with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster key components of our transatlantic relationship.”

But many students looking for help from U.S. embassies and consulates have found those services closed because of COVID-19.

“When will the F-1 visa processing resume in Istanbul? Most of the U.S. consulates in Europe already started offering visa interviews for F-1 students. My school starts in 4 weeks; need help!”

“When will Embassy reopen for F-1 Visa Interviews? Please clarify … It is highly frustrating for new students who have their future on stake! People have left their jobs for joining colleges in Fall 2020 semester … But it seems no one cares!”

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs tweeted that U.S. embassies and consulates were beginning “the phased resumption of routine visa services. The dates for each embassy or consulate will depend on local conditions.”

“Please monitor the embassy or consulate website for updates,” it stated.

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How Does Medical School Work?

FILE - Dr. Keith Reisinger-Kindle, associate director of the OB-GYN residency program at Wright State University's medical school in Dayton, Ohio, leads a lecture of OB-GYN residents in the Wright State program, April 13, 2022.
FILE - Dr. Keith Reisinger-Kindle, associate director of the OB-GYN residency program at Wright State University's medical school in Dayton, Ohio, leads a lecture of OB-GYN residents in the Wright State program, April 13, 2022.

A medical education in the U.S. is long and frequently expensive. But with high average earnings, and the opportunity to save lives, many think it’s worth it.

Sarah Wood explains the basics of medical education for the US News & World Report. (January 2024)

Biden Cancels Federal Student Loans for Nearly 153,000 Borrowers

President Joe Biden speaks at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., Feb. 21, 2024.
President Joe Biden speaks at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., Feb. 21, 2024.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.

Biden, who is in the midst of a three-day campaign swing through California, made the announcement as part of a new repayment plan that offers a faster path to forgiveness, putting the spotlight on his debt cancellation efforts in his reelection campaign.

"Too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree," he said from a local library before he went on to campaign-related events. Loan relief helps the greater economy, he said, because "when people have a student debt relief, they buy homes. They start businesses, they contribute. They engage."

The administration began sending email notifications on Wednesday to some of the borrowers who will benefit from what the White House has called the SAVE program. The cancellations were originally scheduled to start in July, but last month the administration said it would be ready almost six months ahead of schedule, in February.

"Starting today, the first round of folks who are enrolled in our SAVE student loan repayment plan who have paid their loans for 10 years and borrowed $12,000 or less will have their debt cancelled," Biden posted on social media Wednesday. "That's 150,000 Americans and counting. And we're pushing to relieve more."

The first round of forgiveness from the SAVE plan will clear $1.2 billion in loans. The borrowers will get emails with a message from Biden notifying them that "all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration's SAVE Plan."

In his email to borrowers, Biden wrote he had heard from "countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they've put on hold."

More than 7.5 million people have enrolled in the new repayment plan.

He said Wednesday that it was the kind of relief "that can be life-changing for individuals and their families."

"I'm proud to have been able to give borrowers like so many of you the relief you earned," he said, asking the crowd gathered for his speech how many had debt forgiven. Many raised their hands.

Borrowers are eligible for cancellation if they are enrolled in the SAVE plan, originally borrowed $12,000 or less to attend college and have made at least 10 years of payments. Those who took out more than $12,000 will be eligible for cancellation but on a longer timeline. For each $1,000 borrowed beyond $12,000, it adds an additional year of payments on top of 10 years.

The maximum repayment period is capped at 20 years for those with only undergraduate loans and 25 years for those with any graduate school loans.

Biden announced the new repayment plan last year alongside a separate plan to cancel up to $20,000 in loans for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court struck down his plan for widespread forgiveness, but the repayment plan has so far escaped that level of legal scrutiny. Unlike his proposal for mass cancellation — which had never been done before — the repayment plan is a twist on existing income-based plans created by Congress more than a decade ago.

Biden said he remained steadfast in his commitment to "fix our broken student loan system," working around the court's ruling to find other ways to get it done.

Academic Superstars Are Facing Accusations of Plagiarism

FILE - Harvard President Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington. A week later, she remains under pressure regarding her response to questions about antisemitism on her campus.
FILE - Harvard President Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington. A week later, she remains under pressure regarding her response to questions about antisemitism on her campus.

Harvard’s former president Claudine Gay resigned recently after being accused of plagiarism. Now, the work of top researchers in many fields is facing scrutiny. Anemona Hartocollis reports for The New York Times. (January 2024).

This College Student’s Acceptance Letter Came With a Marching Band

FILE - The Maryland state flag and University of Maryland flag are run across the end zone after a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Sept. 30, 2023, in College Park, Md.
FILE - The Maryland state flag and University of Maryland flag are run across the end zone after a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana, Sept. 30, 2023, in College Park, Md.

Alejandro Marroquin, 17, was surprised one morning by a full marching band outside his home, carrying a letter admitting him to the University of Maryland. Read the story from Emily Davies of The Washington Post. (January 2024)

Biden’s Student-Loan Repayment Program Is Starting Up

FILE - People in favor of canceling student debt protest outside the Supreme Court, June 30, 2023, in Washington.
FILE - People in favor of canceling student debt protest outside the Supreme Court, June 30, 2023, in Washington.

The new program could save many borrowers at least $1,000 per year. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel has the details in The Washington Post. (January 2024)

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