Washington, July 14, 2020 – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to rescind the guidance issued by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) on July 6, 2020, which would have banned nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online from remaining in the U.S. while taking a full online course load. DHS rescinded the Fall 2020 guidance in response to a lawsuit from Harvard University & the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and widespread backlash, and reverted back to the guidance issued in March. For Fall 2020, international students in the United States will be allowed to take more than one virtual class and still maintain active student status. The following is a statement by Dr. Esther D. Brimmer, Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
“Today’s decision is a victory for campuses and communities across the nation. The July 6 guidance dangerously linked international students’ legal status to their institution’s decision-making on how best to navigate keeping their campus community safe during a highly unpredictable pandemic. It put university administrators in the position of weighing the deportation of valued members of their campus community against the public health risks of holding in-person classes. We are heartened to see the guidance put to rest.
“While this is a positive outcome, we cannot ignore the damage inflicted by the perception of the July 6 guidance – the administration was willing, until this guidance was rescinded, to force international students to choose between maintaining legal immigration status and what is best for their health and safety. Immigration policies need to be fair in order to help win back the confidence of international students, confidence that has been lagging as shown by three straight academic years of declining new international student enrollment (nearly 11% since fall 2016). The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States remains unpredictable and institutions must be trusted and be given the authority to make decisions that are right for their campuses based on their local circumstances and the safety and well-being of all involved. We will continue to work with our coalition partners and take every avenue available to us to advocate for international students.”
About NAFSA: Serving more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Visit us at www.nafsa.org/press. To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit www.nafsa.org/takeaction. Resources to guide our members on these issues can be found at www.nafsa.org/reginfo.