Letter to the Editor | We must do better for students with visa issues

Opinion by Ruth Starkman
Sept. 18, 2022, 8:20 p.m.

To the editor,

Today I learned that one of my incoming international frosh students for the class of 2026 has not yet received her F1 visa and will not be able to arrive on campus for the start of Autumn quarter. After inquiring about being allowed to arrive Winter quarter, permission for late arrival was denied. She was told by Stanford administration that there is no flexibility about starting time. She will therefore have to wait a full year before starting at Stanford.  

The administration alleges that our data, as well as that from all of Stanford’s peer institutions, shows that allowing international students to start one quarter late due to visa delays puts them at an academic and personal disadvantage for the rest of their undergraduate experience. Perhaps the data are accurate, but the administration might try to solve this problem, not only for this student but for others in the same situation. In this case, the student had to pay for a trip from her country (which has no U.S. consular services to issue a visa) to Singapore in order to apply for the visa, and now will have to repeat the same procedure next year to join Stanford in Fall 2023. A physics Olympiad champion, she is losing an important year where she might have been sharing her excellence with our Stanford community.  

Stanford has the resources to better prepare our international students to arrive in time for the Autumn quarter of their acceptance. In fact, we are exceptionally proactive about getting other groups of students here on time and even early. For example, some of our football players accepted by Dec 15 arrive in the classrooms by Winter quarter to help them adjust academically. Imagine what could be done for our international students if we simply had the visa process rolling earlier. Imagine if Stanford were as proactive with other groups, such as first-generation, low-income students, to ensure their success and the vibrant diversity of every incoming class.

We must do better for our students.


Dr. Ruth A. Starkman

Program in Writing and Rhetoric

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