On July 6, 2020, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance that would force international students to leave the country if they do not participate in in-person instruction during the fall 2020 semester. Please take a few moments to write to your members of Congress about intervening to protect foreign students in the United States.
The new ICE guidance modifies temporary exemptions issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status. Foreign students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall 2020 semester will now be forced to “depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”
In addition to jeopardizing public health and safety by ignoring the continuing rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus in communities across the United States, this policy causes additional economic harm to individuals, communities, and colleges across the country. It threatens the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. scientific, technological, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) enterprise. It needlessly adds additional stress, complexity, and economic burden to individual students who will have their lives further disrupted.
Foreign students should be allowed to remain in the US and to complete courses in person, online, or in a hybrid fashion based on the needs and best judgement of their academic institutions and their own personal circumstances.
You can contact your members of Congress about intervening to protect international students now from the AIBS Legislative Action Center. We have included a template letter for your convenience but we encourage you to personalize the message by sharing personal stories and describing how you and your colleagues benefit from interactions with foreign students.