President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order is not expected to affect the number of incoming international students, or current international students here at Castleton University, according to international student services officials.
The executive order prohibits anyone from, Iraq Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and, Yemen, all majority-Muslim countries, from entering the United States on visas.
Deborah Singiser, International Student Services director, said she has been approached numerous times by members of the Castleton Community, asking about the status of the 58 international students on campus, only to have the same bittersweet response.
“Thankfully none of the international students here at Castleton University are from the countries banned through President Trump’s executive order, however we would love to be able to have students from anywhere,” Singiser said.
As of right now, the number of international students expected for the 2017 fall semester is unknown, not because of political reasons, but because it is still early in the admissions process, said Castleton Dean of Enrollment Maurice Ouimet.
Ouimet, like Singiser, agrees that the Trump executive order hasn’t yet had an impact at Castleton University, but he’s uncertain whether it might down the road.
“We haven’t seen any affects of the executive order just yet. We have a healthy number of applications from international students, and none of our current students have ben affected by it at this time. I think the future will tell if there will be any potential consequences from it, but as of right now we don’t anticipate anything happening from it, but we will have to see what happens,” Ouimet said.
But Patrick Liu, director of International Students Recruitment, is not convinced the change would come without headaches.
“We are expecting it to be a lot more difficult for our international students to process their student visa applications, and other paperwork,” Liu said.
The student visa application has always been a rigorous process. The application consists of a background check going back 10 years. After that, you have to be accepted for the interview, which costs about $600 in American currency. At that point you are either accepted or denied for a student visa.
Kinyenje Ngigi, a sophomore international student from Kenya, is nervous about renewing his student visa.
“Kenya was on a two-year visa program with the United States when I got my visa, now it is a five-year program, but I am on the two-year program, but my two years are almost up. I will have to reapply. I think that the visa process will be even harder… Kenyan and American ties have recently gotten stronger, hopefully that continues to be the case,” Ngigi said.
Ngigi also noticed on a recent trip back to Kenya this summer, that traveling to the United States was a lot stricter then it previously has been.
What will happen in the next couple of months politically is unknown, however Castleton University officials said they will continue to strive for more diversity with efforts such as bringing in Japanese students for the next semester.
When asked the importance of having a diverse campus, Ouimet said it’s vital.
“It’s all part of having a quality education and experience, meeting people from different backgrounds. There is a lot of diversity on our campus. We have a growing number of international students, we have a growing number of students from other parts of the country, and we have a lot of diversity from within our great state of Vermont. There are students who live close to our campus and students who live in the Northeast Kingdom. We all have a lot to learn from each other,” said Ouimet.