Ask an OISS Advisor: Effects of Election Results

QUESTION: Since the presidential election a lot of rumors have been flying around. What exactly are the ramifications for international students due to Trump’s victory?
          by Martha Turner, Director, International Student and Scholar Advising

ANSWER: Many international students are trying to sort out their feelings about the election results. Some students have brought up concerns about potential changes that President-Elect Trump has proposed as well as fears based on comments he made during the campaign regarding immigrants and foreign relations.

It should be noted that although the U.S. Constitution does grant the President some executive powers that have the force of law (i.e. executive orders which have the same authority as a law passed by Congress), the majority of changes and policy initiatives require the support and approval of Congress and must go through the law-making process. Even though the Republican Party (Trump’s Party) has retained control of both the House and the Senate, this does not mean that Congress will always support the President’s initiatives.  Additionally, even if the President proposes a bill and Congress votes to enact it, there can still be legal challenges to the law which are decided by the courts. Executive Orders issued by the President are subject to review by the judicial branch and can be struck down if found to be unconstitutional. In other words, it’s a complicated process which means that no President-Elect can guarantee to successfully put into place what was proposed on the campaign trail.

However, the President does indeed have a lot of power to set the agenda and order changes to specific legal regulations.

We have heard some of the rumors and fears from students. Some wonder if they will be able to renew their visa if they return home for a visit.  Others wonder if their plans to work in the U.S. after graduation will be affected by changes in OPT, STEM and the H-1B visa.

Trump has committed to several initiatives for his first 100 days in office that reference immigration and visa policies. But it is too early to tell what shape these initiatives will actually take and what impact, if any, they will have on international students.  Professor Stephen Legomsky from the Washington University Law School is one of the foremost experts on immigration policy. In the latest edition of The Source, a publication of Washington University in St. Louis, Legomsky offers a prediction on what Trump might try to do in the area of immigration.

Despite the election, the truth is that most Americans are still very much in favor of opening our doors to international students and immigrants.  In Gallup’s Minority Rights and Relations poll conducted June 7-July 1, 2016, over 7 in 10 Americans identified immigration as good for the country.  We will have to wait and see how the President Elect and the Congress move forward with changes in immigration policy and regulations.

As information becomes available, the Office for International Students and Scholars will keep students updated through emails, our newsletter, and workshops so that students are aware of changes and can plan accordingly.


Send us your questions! “Ask an OISS Advisor” is a regular feature in the International Voice where OISS advisors answer questions that have been submitted by International Students and Scholars from Washington University. This means that we need your help! If you have a question that you would like to have answered in this column, please send it to us. It might be a question for which you don’t know the answer or it may be a particular issue that you have noticed causes confusion for many other international students. If you’re not sure if it’s a good question for this feature, go ahead and send it in, and we will decide. Please send your questions to the editor of the International Voice at: . Indicate if you prefer for your question to be anonymous.