Pierce College has about 400 foreign students. Only one, 19-year-old Faisal Alhaddad from Yemen, is affected by President Donald Trump’s executive orders banning travelers from seven countries.
The executive order directly affects the status of students from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. The ban on immigrants and visitors is to last 90 days.
The University of Washington, Washington State University and the state’s community colleges estimate more than 400 students from the seven countries are studying in Washington, according to The Seattle Times.
Nearly 29,000 international students attended Washington colleges and universities in 2015, according to The Times.
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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the travel ban after a hearing Tuesday.
In the meantime, two prospective Pierce College students, one from Sudan who was to start school in spring and the other from Iran starting in the fall, now have their education plans on hold, said Susan Taylor, immigration manager for the school’s International Education Office.
“The U.S. consulates and embassies are not scheduling appointments for visa applications in those countries,” said Mary Meulblok, manager of International Student Services at Pierce College.
Nima Ojha, 28, a Pierce College student from Nepal, said she was worried for future students from her homeland. She has a friend and a sister who are trying to get student visas for the United States.
“They are frustrated,” said Ojha, who fears they might never be allowed into the country.
Some of the foreign students at Pierce College are as young as 16. Others come to the college for just a semester to learn English.
More than 100 Tunisian students nationwide are on scholarships provided by the U.S. Department of State.
They are in the United States under the student F1 visa, which is granted to foreign students to study in the country. The visa allows students unlimited entries into the United States as long as they maintain their student status.
Taylor noted that getting such a visa has never been guaranteed for any country’s citizen. Everyone is subject to evaluation.
First, students must apply at a school such as Pierce College. If certain government and school requirements are met, the prospective student applies to a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
The State Department vets the student and, if approved, issues a student visa.
Meulblok said students tell her they are thoroughly questioned about funding sources, education goals, why they chose a particular school and their future goals in their home country.