Chinese students, whose visa applications for higher scientific studies at US universities were rejected, are preparing to file a lawsuit against the US government. They have created a website for this and plan to raise between $750,000 and $1 million before filing a complaint.
“We spoke with several US attorneys and had two meetings with renowned civil rights and immigration attorney Ira Kurzban. […] We are preparing to fight in the long term”, explains one of the students on the initiative of the website, which wishes to remain anonymous.
According to him, the students in question come mainly from eight major scientific universities in China, which the United States accuses of having ties to the Chinese army. These include Harbin University of Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Beihang University and Beijing Institute of Technology.
In May of last year, former US President Donald Trump passed Presidential Proclamation 10043, which prohibits Chinese doctoral students and academics from studying or working in the United States if Washington deems they have an affiliation with the “fusion strategy.” civil-military” of China.
“Today, restrictions are imposed on students from eight universities. Who can guarantee that this ban will not be extended? [..] The ban affects science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students. Who can guarantee that one day it will not apply to all Chinese students who want to study abroad? To remain silent today would be to allow unjustified discrimination”, protested the student.
Nearly 2,000 Chinese students said they face visa restrictions, he said. Some are majoring in literature and some are graduate students or visiting professors at the China Scholarship Board. “Going to study abroad is not an easy decision. This requires several years of preparation and financial investment. Many of them are saddened, angry or even depressed by this news”, explains the initiator.
An open letter signed by more than 500 Chinese students complaining about the rejection of their US visa applications provoked a strong response from netizens on Chinese social media. At a recent press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian emphasized that visa restrictions are a continuation of the Trump administration’s “poisonous legacy”.
In a separate press conference, former ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin cited an analysis by a Georgetown University think tank that shows that Chinese STEM students were disproportionately affected by the presidential proclamation: 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese students may have been affected by the proclamation so far, representing 16% to 27% of the 19,000 Chinese graduate students who pursue STEM studies in the United States each year.
A doctoral student in physics at an American university and a graduate of one of the eight Chinese universities in question, explains that getting a valid visa interrupted her studies: “The endless worries of getting a valid visa plagued me even when I was overloaded academic duties. […] I also spent many nights constantly suffering from anger, sadness and anxiety.”
China is the largest source of international students in the United States. In the 2019-2020 school year, there were more than 372,000 Chinese students in the United States, nearly a third of the roughly one million international students in the country, says the Open Doors report, an annual study by the Institute. for International Education of foreign students and faculty in the United States.
In 2019, the Chinese Ministry of Education warned Chinese students about the risks of continuing their studies in the United States due to visa restrictions.
According to a report by Vision Overseas Consulting published in May, the UK remains the most popular destination for Chinese students looking to study abroad for the second year in a row, with the US once again in second place. The United Kingdom was chosen by 44% of respondents, against 32% of the United States.