ICE Guidance Unnecessarily Puts International Students At Risk
    July 7, 2020

    On July 6, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance modifying temporary exemptions for international students receiving online instruction from U.S. institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. By limiting the ability of institutions to change the modes by which courses are delivered in response to evolving local and regional health concerns, the new guidance severely undermines the capacity of colleges and universities to best serve students. Per the latest guidance, new visas will not be granted to international students, nor will they be permitted to enter the United States, if they are enrolled in a school/program that is fully online for the Fall semester. Further, individuals on F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas could face removal if they receive their full course load via online instruction while in the U.S., even if the decision to convert to fully online instruction later in the year is deemed essential due to the pandemic. ICE states that students must either “take other measures” such as transferring to another institution with in-person instruction or risk leaving the country.


    “Notwithstanding the academic, emotional, financial, and logistical nightmare this creates for students who find themselves in this situation, this proposed guidance flies in the face of carefully weighed decisions being made by institutions to ensure that the health and safety of the campus community remain a top priority,” said Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. “While there is tremendous uncertainty and a complete lack of clarity about the full intent and implementation of these modifications, the impact on both the current and future international graduate student pipeline and our member institutions will be substantial. This Administration’s persistent punitive policies hindering international students are extremely distressing and detrimental to our standing in the world. This is not who we are. This is not what we stand for. We strongly urge the Administration to immediately reconsider its current proposal and ensure international students can safely continue their education without fear of being forced to leave.”


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