Bill Proposes Reforms to Student Visa Application Process to Stop China’s IP Theft

November 19, 2020 Updated: November 19, 2020

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) has introduced a bill to reform the student visa application process, with the aim of preventing it from being exploited by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Named the CCP Visa Disclosure Act of 2020, the bill would require aliens seeking either a student visa or non-immigrant visa to declare on their applications whether they have received funds from either the Chinese regime, the CCP, or any entity owned or controlled by either of the two.

For people applying for either the F (for studying at academic institution) or M (for studying at a vocational or nonacademic institution), the bill mandates that the Secretary of Homeland Security update the Form I-120 so that applicants disclose whether they have received or planned to receive Chinese funds, and if so, the amount and a description of the entity providing the money.

The three new disclosure questions will also be added to the Form DS-2019, which is a document that aliens need to fill out to obtain J visas, commonly used by foreigners coming to the United States for academic and cultural exchanges.

Aliens having received an F, M, or J visa would be required to disclose new Chinese funds within 90 days after the date that they receive the money.

Failure to report Chinese funds means that aliens are “subject to revocation of any visa or other entry documentation,” according to the bill text.

“The #CCP has a proven track record of manipulating the United States’ student visa system to spy on Americans and steal our intellectual property,” Steube wrote on his Twitter account on Nov. 18 while announcing his new bill.

In a statement from his office, Steube said the bill would counter the CCP’s “dire threat to our intellectual property, personal information, and national security.”

In recent years, U.S. authorities have prosecuted cases of Chinese nationals working at U.S. universities who have stolen technology beneficial to the Chinese regime.

And this year, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) exposed six people who came from China to study in the United States, after hiding their affiliations with China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, on their visa applications.

In one of the cases, Ye Yanqing, a PLA lieutenant, was charged with visa fraud for failing to disclose her military background on her visa application in January, prosecutors alleged. Ye obtained a J-1 nonimmigrant visa to be an exchange student at Boston University from October 2017 to April 2019.

According to court documents, her research and studies in the United States were funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council, a scholarship fund established by China’s Ministry of Education for students to study abroad.

During her exchange program, Ye was “tasked with numerous assignments”  from the Chinese military, including sending U.S. documents and information to China, according to prosecutors.

In August, amid heightened scrutiny over visa issuances for Chinese researchers, the University of North Texas (UNT) issued a statement asking 15 visiting scholars who received funding from the Chinese Scholarship Council to return home.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer