On Monday of this week (July 6), the Department of Homeland Security issued updated guidelines regarding the visa status of international students enrolled at U.S. institutions of higher learning for the fall 2020 term. The proposed policy indicates that students enrolled in an online-only course of study are ineligible for F-1 status. Students currently residing in the United States whose institutions have announced online-only plans for the fall are required to depart the country (or to transfer to another school). Similarly, the proposed policy indicates that students whose institutions change to a full online mode at some point in the semester would have to leave the country.
This is a fluid situation and we are still learning about the ramifications of the guidelines. The proposed policy has not yet been implemented and is already being challenged in federal court. We note that because the University of Iowa has adopted a blended approach to instruction this fall—which combines both in-person and online instruction—the UI has flexibility in adapting to these circumstances. As a result, the UI is committed to working with international students to find solutions to ensure that their fall programs of study are completed with minimum disruption. International Programs and academic units across the university will continue to offer all the services necessary to support our international students.
The University of Iowa is committed to fostering a welcoming, inclusive environment for all its students. The UI is proud of its international students and scholars and celebrates their many contributions. Standing in solidarity with its international community, International Programs and the University of Iowa voice their objection to these harsh and unnecessary guidelines in the strongest possible terms and pledge to lend all the assistance and reassurance they can during these troubled moments.
With sincere best wishes,
Associate Provost and Dean, International Programs