On Nov. 2, Director of International Student Engagement Hanna Bliss announced in a newsletter for the Center for International Student Engagement (CISE) that the college will establish an Office of Immigration Services (OIS), effective at the start of the coming spring semester.
The decision comes amid significant changes to U.S. immigration policy over the past few years, including the Trump administration’s efforts to impose stricter limits on the duration of international student visas, eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — which provides administrative amnesty for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as a minor — and ban travel from several predominantly African and Muslim-majority countries.
According to the announcement, the OIS will oversee visa support systems for international, undocumented and DACA students, as well as provide for general advocacy and policymaking around the college’s approach to immigration issues. Immigration advising, which was previously the purview of the CISE for international students and of the Center for Diversity and Student Leadership (CDSL) for undocumented and DACA students, will become jurisdiction of the OIS upon its establishment.
Bliss, who has led the CISE since its inception in 2017, will head the new office, assuming the role of director of immigration and visa services. The OIS will be housed within the Office of Student Affairs.
“In the OIS, I will support international students around F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant status, and will also support the college’s undocumented/DACA student community in navigating the legal landscape of immigration policy in the U.S.,” Bliss wrote in an email interview. “Perhaps now more than ever, our students who directly navigate these federal regulatory policies are experiencing rapid and unexpected changes that directly impact their lives, their studies and their families.”
“We know, too, that the effects of immigration policy change are often magnified and exacerbated for students holding marginalized identities beyond their immigration status,” Bliss added. “The OIS will serve as a central hub for up-to-date information, dedicated resources and advocacy — we’ll offer immigration and visa support through a lens of deep care for students’ full selves.”
The transition to and development of the OIS will take place gradually in the academic year after its formal establishment. In the meantime, Bliss said that both the CISE and the CDSL will “continue focusing on resource development, community building, critical reflection and the intersectional work of the resource centers team in new and promising ways.”