International students should be given green cards after college

Tommy Collison, Opinion Editor

International students like me make up roughly 20 percent of the NYU student body, and we have to jump through many hoops while studying here. Most international students I know don’t receive much, if anything, by way of financial aid, and we have far less institutional support than our U.S. passport-holding classmates. Between fewer aid opportunities, streams of documentation and extra hassles at U.S. borders, the international community is a hardy bunch, willing to put up with the extra trouble and red tape because we think an American education is worth it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer and lead actor of a new musical on the life of immigrant Alexander Hamilton, said in an interview that the term immigrant is “used as a dirty word by politicians to get cheap political points.” One way of recognizing the contributions immigrant students provide the U.S. would be to give them a green card along with their diploma, allowing them to stay here when their visas expire. The debate around immigrants has been going on since this nation was founded and shows all the signs of being a central tenet in the 2016 presidential election. Bernie Sanders has promised green cards for international STEM majors; the other candidates should adopt a similar platform, and expand it to all majors, not just those who major in a math or a science.

Rather than allowing the conversation around immigration to be dominated by fear-mongering, this country should try to understand why so many people choose to come here. Immigrants have long had an influence on U.S. politics — from first secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton to the families of presidents Andrew Jackson and John F. Kennedy. Lost in the contemporary rhetoric of border walls and illegal aliens are stats that show immigrants actually create jobs and pay considerable amounts in tax. Even just at NYU, we give landlords monthly checks and pay the school’s astronomical tuition, which goes toward American salaries. If allowed to stay on after graduating, we could continue to support local businesses as we join the workforce as doctors, lawyers, journalists and businesspeople. In doing so, we directly benefit a country that isn’t ours, and while here we’re not working to the benefit of our home countries. The choice to do so isn’t easy, and is rarely acknowledged by pundits or politicians alike.

For almost the entirety of its existence, the United States has been a place people around the world look toward for a chance to make a better life. By and large, people born here don’t recognize the enormous contributions immigrants make to American society. It’s time to stop demonizing immigrants and acknowledge that this country benefits from our participation.



Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Tommy Collison at [email protected]



  1. Let’s face it, being an international student isn’t easy, given our complex culture and language. Assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that can aid anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they contributed to our society, including students.
    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and informative books like this to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study!

  2. For the record, most NYU students don’t receive much, if anything, by way of financial aid. That’s not just international students.

  3. Yeah right ! why not just give citizenship ?

    The moot point about international students paying for tuition and creating jobs is not to get yourself jobs. But to get yourself an education. The country is providing you with a great education already. Should they also sacrifice the jobs you pretend to create for americans ? Be reasonable in what you ask.

  4. When you applied for an International Student Visa, you were telling the U.S Government you were going back to your home country after graduation. You and all international students know this.

    Now you want to change the rules once you are here?

    No thanks. Our economy is still mediocre at best, millions of citizens need help and the extra competition from foreigners is not needed.


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