Mass. colleges ask immigration authorities to allow global students to stay

Irish students in Trinity College

Irish students in Trinity College Getty

The new policy would have the effect of banning any foreign student with an F-1 student visa from entering the USA, or from remaining in the country, if their classes were fully online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICE also noted that this approach "balances students' ability to continue their studies while minimizing the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our communities by ensuring that individuals who do not need to be present in the United States are not physically here".

Kentucky higher education officials are taking a wait-and-see approach toward a new Trump administration rule that would revoke the visas of worldwide students if their classes are held fully online.

Friday's letter to the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was signed by leaders from the University of MA system and the Commonwealth's nine state universities and 15 community colleges, as well as state Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos E. Santiago.

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"(The) ICE's action proceeded without any indication of having considered the health of students, faculty, university staff, or communities. or the absence of other options for universities to provide their curricula to many of their worldwide students", the lawsuit by the two prestigious universities reads.

"ICE's abrupt policy change guts the enormous reliance interests of higher education institutions and their students-all of whom planned for the fall 2020 semester based on ICE's earlier confirmation that its March 2020 position would remain so long as the "emergency" continued", the amicus brief read.

"The Office of Global Affairs is now reviewing the course schedule of all worldwide students", it states. "Please be assured that the Office of Extended and International Education is in contact with students who may be impacted by this guidance to provide them with information and support", Greer said.

The fall semester is slated to start August 19 at WVU, where there are about 2,000 global students.

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ICE notified colleges Monday that worldwide students will be forced to leave the United States or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall. Worldwide students with questions about how the new policy may impact them can contact Samrat Ray Chaudhuri, director of Global Recruitment, at

Many critics of the move also have decried alleged political motives, especially as both President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy Devos called this week for a full return of in-person instruction and the re-opening of American schools.

OSU in particular is struggling to decipher what the rule means for them and their students, considering the combined course offerings the school now employs. But it's worrisome that worldwide students at this university will have just over a month from when the university announces which classes will be online on July 15 to either transfer to an institution offering in-person classes, find a way to take in-person classes or leave the country.

The ACCU pointed to the stark difference from this spring when "universities had to pivot on a dime to shift instruction online in order to keep students, faculty and local communities safe from contagion".

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A number of institutions and States have filed lawsuits against the Trump Administration for the new policy including California Attorney General and John Hopkins University.

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