In a policy change set for next month, the Trump administration is moving to shorten visas for Chinese students in fields like tech and engineering. While most visas are issued for the longest possible length of time under law, the new policy will allow U.S. officials to put a one year cap on visas for Chinese graduate students who are “studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing,” according to the Associated Press.
A State Department official told The Hill that “Although the large majority of visas issued to Chinese nationals are issued for the maximum validity, consular officers may limit the validity of visas on a case-by-case basis” under the new rules.
Beyond the student limits, U.S. consulates and embassies reportedly received instructions that any Chinese citizen applying for a visa will need to secure additional special permission form the U.S. if they work in research or management for any company the U.S. Commerce Department lists as an entity “requiring higher scrutiny.”
The new visa policy shifts come as Trump is knee-deep in a controversial new tariff plan targeting Chinese trade and is intended to protect against the theft of U.S. intellectual property, or so the reasoning goes.
The visa change was signaled in the National Security Strategy report that the Trump administration issued in December. That document explains the rationale clearly:
“The United States will review visa procedures to reduce economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors. We will consider restrictions on foreign STEM students from designated countries to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors, while acknowledging the importance of recruiting the most advanced technical workforce to the United States.”
The State Department noted that these changes will go into effect starting on June 11.