Response to July 2020 ICE policy on international students with F1 and M1 visas

To the MIT Graduate Community:

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.

Given the fact that many of the international graduate students at MIT are F1 visa holders, we, the Graduate Student Council Executive Committee, know the stress and anxiety this news brings to our international student community. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this news has caused, especially as it exacerbates xenophobia and scapegoating our community is already struggling against. We offer our solidarity in this troubled time, and encourage you to reach out to us at gsc-excomm@mit.edu so we can support your advocacy efforts and ensure your concerns reach MIT leadership.

In collaboration with the MIT administration, we are working to provide support and relief to our community, as international students have to deal with this additional stress during a time that is already extraordinarily difficult and grim.

International graduate students comprise 41% of the MIT graduate student body. International students bring not only intellectual value to our community, but also fresh perspectives and cultural dialog to MIT. Most importantly, international students are our friends, lab mates, colleagues, students and deserve to be treated fairly. We will do anything in our power to protect the international and intercultural environment which has always been MIT’s strength.

To that end, we will keep the graduate students abreast of MIT’s response to this newly announced policy change. Until all the questions surrounding this policy change are addressed, students affected by this policy change can use MIT’s resources for personal support and contact the Office of Graduate Education (oge@mit.edu) and International Student Office (iso-help@mit.edu).

We hope that all international students are taking care of themselves during this time. Please feel free to reach out to GSC if you have any questions. If you would like to get involved, join the GSC Student Solutions Group – International Student Support wing, which brings together student voices to advocate for international students. Additionally, an open letter is circulating urging administration to protect all international and immigrant students and workers at MIT. Please feel free to read, sign, and share widely!

Sincerely,

MIT Graduate Student Council Executive Committee