Two of America’s largest industries are Hollywood and, maybe surprisingly, higher education. Many colleges and universities are profitable businesses with significant portions of their revenue being driven by foreign students. Without the tuition and living expenses they pay, many jobs in colleges and college towns, as well as tax revenue generated from student purchases, would be lost. Despite the economic benefits of international students, many are forced to miss portions of their academic experience because of visa delays at the US consulates. Once they arrive in the US, many students fall out of legal status because they do not received adequate support from their college or university to guide them through the maze of legal procedures. Too often, international students must leave the United States without completing their intended course of study, depriving them and America of the benefits of their presence in our education system.
Foreign students do not just study, spend money, and leave. They also learn about American values, our culture, and our people. When they return to their own country, or decide or find a way to stay here, they want to do business with Americans and often open up their connections back home. Globalization is not optional in a contemporary world; it is a fact of economic reality that the rest of the world already has grasped. By subjecting foreign students to hostile treatment at US consulates abroad during the visa application process, it unnecessarily lowers the likelihood of America benefitting from some of the world’s brightest, best-connected young people. In many ways, foreign students are gold nuggets lying in our riverbeds and we should treat them as such.