Demonstrate Support for International Students in the U.S.
On Monday, July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced regulations that prevent F-1 visa-holding students from enrolling in fully online semesters or attending colleges and universities that will only offer online courses this fall. Though Arcadia University’s All-Modes Ready approach—through which we plan to offer on-campus course options—is advantageous for those impacted by these restrictions, it is concerning that international students may not be afforded the same choices, opportunities, and flexibility during these challenging times.
The Office of International Programs (OIP) contacted all international students on Monday to reaffirm the University’s support and will continue to stay in touch. Many had already expressed fears related to COVID-19 exposure, travel restrictions, and opposition to immigration in the U.S. I am heartbroken and angry that, in the midst of a global pandemic, students are faced with additional challenges to their educational pursuits.
OIP and faculty advisers are working with F-1 visa-holding students regarding compliance with these regulations and maintaining an active status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Students who left the U.S. intending to stay abroad this fall will not be impacted and can continue to enroll in online courses. While the All-Modes Ready approach may benefit those who wish to continue studying in-country, the University is examining options to protect students’ statuses and enable them to progress toward their academic goals should public health concerns require us to move to a fully online format.
At this point, there are many uncertainties. When colleges and universities moved to remote formats in March, the federal administration permitted international students to continue their spring semesters online. Monday’s shift was unanticipated. Arcadia’s governmental liaisons are providing advice for multiple scenarios, and we have been advised that it is likely we will know soon if the court in which this regulation is being challenged will postpone enforcement.
As we prepare for these next steps, President Nair has signed a letter to Congress, coordinated by the American Council on Education (ACE), asking for assistance in rescinding the proposed regulation or passing legislation that grants needed flexibility for international students if the Department of Homeland Security is unwilling to withdraw the directive.
I also want to share an open letter condemning ICE’s decision, created by Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston University Dr. Heba Gowayed. More than 32,000 faculty and staff members across the United States—including many Arcadia University community members—signed Dr. Gowayed’s petition. I encourage those who have not signed do so and demonstrate their support for students across the country and around the world.
International students will always have a home at Arcadia. These restrictions are antithetical to our mission and values as an inclusive, global community. We will provide updates as they are available, and those in need of assistance can email email@example.com, who is working with faculty to ensure understanding of the government restrictions.
Associate Dean, Office of International Programs