Donald Trump is running for reelection as the Republican candidate, whilst Joe Biden wants to be voted in as the Democratic candidate.
Who wins will have a lot of influence on people who live, work, and visit America – including students, both domestic and international.
Trump administration’s unfriendly immigration policies, and tightening of post-study work visa rules. Donald Trump has introduced a number of policies that make it harder for international students to obtain student visas, including a new rule that would limit the length of stay of international students in the US.
Joe Biden, if elected president, has pledged to walk back a laundry list of Trump-era restrictions. He could potentially revoke some of Trump’s regulations that negatively affect international students in the US if he wins the presidency.
Here’s what each candidate has to say on the main issues that affect students.
Visas and immigration:
To study in the US you’ll need an F1 or J1 visa, sponsored by the institution you have been given a place to study at.
Donald Trump is likely to try and limit these visas. His administration has already proposed harsh new restrictions that would see international students unable to stay in the country for longer than four years, and potentially only able to obtain two-year visas that would then need to be renewed for four-year degrees.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration also tried to ban international students from staying in the US unless their classes were fully online. Whilst the attempt was unsuccessful, with several major US colleges and universities hitting back at the government, the policy highlights Trump’s largely anti-immigration stance.
However, Joe Biden has made clear his commitment to international students through a tweet responding to this policy, where he wrote: “Across the world, people come to this country with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future. They study here, innovate here, they make America who we are. Donald Trump doesn't get that — we need a president who does”.
Therefore, it’s unlikely that Biden will opt to strengthen any of the current visa policies, which allow students to stay in the country for the duration of their degree programmes
Joe Biden has the biggest plans to change it. He wants to introduce free four-year college for students with family incomes up to $125,000 at public institutions. He also wants to give Americans the option of going to community college for two years, debt-free.
Donald Trump hasn’t said a lot about college fees, suggesting he doesn’t have many plans to change them.
Support migrant students’ access to higher education:
Biden aims to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which the Obama Administration created in 2012 to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
Funding and debt:
Joe Biden wants to double the maximum value of the Pell Grant, one of America’s federal subsidies for undergraduate college students with financial need at participating colleges. He also wants to give those colleges that partake in the Pell Grant programme extra funding.
In terms of debt, Biden wants to introduce no-interest deferral of student loan paybacks for people earning under $25,000, meaning that they would not have to pay more for pushing back their student loan payments. He also wants to forgive the remainder of loans for those who have been “responsibly” making income-based repayments for 20 years.
COVID-19 emergency support :
International students in the US currently do not qualify for COVID-19 relief funding. The Education Department blocked students not eligible for federal financial aid from receiving that funding, issuing an emergency rule and drawing several legal challenges.
Biden could reverse this restriction too, according to Yale Loehr, adding that large-scale immigration changes might need to wait as a new administration addressed more immediate issues like COVID-19 and the fragile economy.