The pandemic has presented unique challenges to international scholars. Here we will start to gather key pieces of information and resources as they appear.
General News and updates:
- ISO “Major Immigration Updates” page communicating decisions from the federal government so we can prepare
- ISO summary of summer updates, which includes info on Trump’s recent proclamation on nonimmigrant visas
- See also the NAFSA summary and notes on the June 22 proclamation
- Letter from Rafael Reif: “Immigration is a kind of oxygen” – details how valuable immigration is to our core mission and states anti-Asian racism is not a tolerable response to issues with the Chinese government.
Latest updates for Fall 2020
- Embassies and consulates have begun opening
- July 6 guidance has been rescinded following the July 6 lawsuit; thus, we have returned to the March 2020 guidance (reviewed here)
- Travel restrictions for much of Europe have been lifted
- ISO’s scoop on SEVP’s announcement of fall guidance for online instruction
- Additional legal analysis
- New Form I-765 for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), F-1 STEM OPT Extension, and J-2 work permit
- ISO has begun holding virtual forums for new and continuing students. That and the latest guidance can be viewed here
- Guidance on remote appointments from OVC, including FAQ developed from grassroots student advocacy
- Update letter on remote appointments
- Request form for remote international appointment
- August update on remote appointments for Fall
The July 6 ICE ruling and the resulting MIT/Harvard suit
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a policy change regarding international students with F1 visa status. According to this new policy, students enrolled in institutions that have transitioned to fully online programs in the fall are barred from reentry to the US and advised to leave the country in order not to face removal proceedings and deportation. DHS also announced that universities with hybrid programs, like MIT, are required to issue new I-20s for F1 visa holders to certify that the student is not taking a fully online course load.
As a result, MIT and Harvard jointly filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security. As President Reif announced, “In the lawsuit, we ask the court to prevent ICE and DHS from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful.”
On July 13, an amicus brief (statement to the court) prepared by Clifford Chance LLP was entered into the record on behalf of graduate students at 15 universities including MIT.
Here are the main sources and updates: