A Message For and About Our International Students

July 10, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,                                                                             

As many of you are aware, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that students who hold F-1 visas will face new restrictions to remain in the U.S. The entire statement can be viewed here (https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-modifies-temporary-exemptions-nonimmigrant-students-taking-online-courses-during). In sum, they are restricting international students' ability to come to or remain in the U.S. if their academic program is solely via online learning; they are requiring at least some in-person courses. 

UA and Arizona Law are deeply committed to doing whatever is necessary to help our international students. 

The University of Arizona quickly mobilized to address this issue and Vice Provost Brent White issued a statement (https://global.arizona.edu/iss/announcements) on Monday assuring students of UA's commitment to provide learning modalities that will ensure international students that they can remain in the U.S. to pursue their studies this fall semester.  

Our current interpretation of the rules is that hybrid courses satisfy SEVP rules, so if as currently planned the UA begins in-person classes in August the College of Law’s New Safe Return plan for instruction will be sufficient for international students. 

We are still working out the details in the less likely event that the UA does not begin the fall semester with in-person classes. We are exploring options such as independent study, discussion sessions associated with currently scheduled courses, or specialized 1 - 2 credit classes, all including in-person elements. We want to emphasize that if we have to pursue these avenues we will do everything possible to ensure students' safety. This includes identifying shaded outdoor space for gatherings and limiting the number of students and faculty in any particular setting.  

Universities across the country are grappling with this, and Harvard and MIT have already launched a lawsuit challenging the rule. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/07/08/harvard-mit-international-students-ice/). Since as lawyers and people studying law you will have special interest and appreciation, we have attached the complaint to this e-mail.

Please note that ISS is actively updating information on their site (https://global.arizona.edu/iss/announcement). ISS will also host Zoom sessions for students on July 15th. They are conducting a separate one for faculty and staff. Details, including how to register and submit questions in advance, are here (https://global.arizona.edu/international-students/programs-events). 

We cherish and celebrate the diversity and contributions that our international students bring to our community -- both at the university and college level. We know the announcement from ICE is creating a great deal of anxiety, and this at a time when there is ongoing anxiety created by COVID. 

We are here for you, and we encourage you to reach out to us. We are all in this together.

Marc