Ali Malekzadeh
Roosevelt President Ali Malekzadeh
"Delays are making the admission process for international students more cumbersome, leading to much uncertainty, not only at Roosevelt, but at higher education institutions in Illinois and around the country." Ali Malekzadeh President, Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University President Ali Malekzadeh and leaders from 28 other universities and colleges in Illinois are urging the state’s Congressional delegation to lift restrictions on immigration by students and scholars.

In a recent letter to U.S. senators and representatives from Illinois, Malekzadeh and fellow higher education leaders expressed concern about changes to immigration policy, including lengthy delays in obtaining and keeping visas.

“Recently we have observed a significant increase in obstacles facing international students and scholars,” the Feb. 13 letter states. “Systemic delays and increasing uncertainty regarding our immigration system harm efforts to recruit and retain international talent at our universities and across the country."

An estimated 53,000 international students attended colleges and universities in Illinois last academic year, and contributed $1.9 billion to the state’s economy, according to the letter signed by leaders from Roosevelt, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola University and many other public and private institutions.

“We are concerned about recent immigration policy changes, including a slowdown by the federal government in the processing of student visa applications,” said Malekzadeh, president of Roosevelt University, which currently has an estimated 300 international students.

“Such delays are making the admission process for international students more cumbersome, leading to much uncertainty, not only at Roosevelt, but at higher education institutions in Illinois and around the country,” he said.

The Feb. 13 letter calls for more oversight by Congress of new immigration policies, including holding hearings to address increasing concerns over delays and denials of entry visas, as well as growing revocations/cancellations of valid visas.

The call for action also asks government officials to grant international students more leeway regarding their intent to return to their home country, a change the state’s higher education leaders believe could reverse the current visa-denial trend.

About Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University, a private institution founded in 1945 on the principles of inclusion and social justice, has more than 4,000 students in five colleges. With campuses in the Chicago Loop and northwest suburban Schaumburg, Roosevelt offers 75 undergraduate and 15 graduate and doctoral programs across five colleges and online, including arts and sciences, business, performing arts, education and pharmacy. During 2020, Roosevelt will mark its 75th anniversary with a yearlong program of special events. For more information, visit

Roosevelt has submitted an application to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to make Robert Morris University Illinois a part of Roosevelt University. This application is subject to the approval of the HLC and the governing boards of Roosevelt and Robert Morris. HLC will need to take steps to review the proposal and will likely reach a decision in early 2020. Visit Building a Stronger University for more information.

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