Vanderbilt hosts Lunch and Learn for Congressional immigration caseworkers

Vanderbilt University’s Office of Federal Relations recently hosted a “Lunch and Learn” event, bringing together immigration caseworkers from Middle Tennessee’s congressional offices alongside key Vanderbilt staff dedicated to assisting the university’s international population. The event provided a rich exchange of insights, challenges and best practices to enhance support for Vanderbilt students and staff.

View a breakdown of Vanderbilt’s international population

International Flags in the Lobby of the Owen School of BusinessJulie Wilbers, Andrea Pietrzyk and Jillian Hautman of Vanderbilt’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) shared insights into the complexities faced by the international student body, which constitutes about 10 percent of the undergraduate population. ISSS provides guidance to nearly 2,100 individuals on various visas, assisting them as they navigate the complexities of travel and work documentation. When visa issues arise, ISSS collaborates with the Office of Federal Relations to facilitate congressional inquiries for additional support.

Caseworkers from the Tennessee Congressional delegation shared their experiences supporting constituents through complex immigration processes. They emphasized that their assistance is nonpartisan and adheres to federal law and regulations. Staff were present from the offices of Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., BA’81, JD’84, Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., JD'93 and Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn.

During the discussion, caseworkers stressed that students, scholars and staff should be proactive and well-prepared with proper documentation, translated into English. They advised providing credible evidence for cases when seeking support from congressional offices. Although caseworkers cannot guarantee outcomes, they can assist constituents in navigating federal agencies.

Students were encouraged to apply for passports upon arrival at college, highlighting the value of preparedness for unforeseen international opportunities and the challenges of urgent passport processing.

Through collaboration with congressional caseworkers and a commitment to best practices, Vanderbilt aims to continue fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for its international community. The Office of Federal Relations plays a crucial role in building strong relationships with congressional offices, ensuring the university remains a hub for international talent and a leader in global academic and research excellence.

Keep Reading

Explore Story Topics