Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students

Published July 8, 2020

The Executive Committee of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies has signed a letter by the Modern Language Association calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reconsider ending visa exemptions for international students. The text of the letter is below and can be viewed here.

Additionally, the National Humanities Alliance issued an action alert that you can complete here.

Update on July 14: The administration has rescinded this decision.


8 July 2020
 
Deputy Director Matthew W. Albence
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
By email to matthew.albence@ice.gov

Dear Deputy Director Albence,

The higher education community represented by the undersigned disciplinary societies urges Immigration and Customs Enforcement to revisit its decision to end temporary visa exemptions for international students whose upcoming coursework will be entirely online. Colleges and universities alike depend on the presence, physical and online, of international visa holders, and many undergraduate and, especially, graduate students cannot complete their work without access to the archival, library, laboratory, and technical resources of their institutions, whether classes are being held entirely online or not. 

International students are an important element of our institutions’ vitality and diversity, and the exemptions that were in place for spring and summer under the Student Exchange and Visitor Program allowed many students to remain connected to their US institutions during this unsettled time. Revoking those exemptions now will end the possibility of US study for international students, affecting both their futures and the futures of the institutions that have depended on and benefited from their contributions. These new restrictions will affect the futures of international students and will as profoundly affect the futures of the colleges and universities that depend on and benefit from their contributions. The increased financial burdens on US universities will be significant.

Please reinstate the temporary visa exemptions for international students and faculty members while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including at least the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. The U.S. system of higher education has long attracted students from all over the world, and for good reason. Please do not refuse access to our colleges and universities for the estimated one million international students who would be affected by this change in policy.