WVU opposes new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidance, underscores commitment to international students

From WVU Today:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed and Amber Brugnoli, associate vice president and executive director of the Office of Global Affairs, addressed new guidance issued from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding international students on F-1 visas in a letter to the campus community today (July 10). 

WVU Campus in Morgantown, W.Va.

Dear WVU Students, Faculty and Staff,

West Virginia University is a global institution, with an international reach and a mission of being the gateway between West Virginia and the world. International students are an integral part of our WVU community. They contribute to our diversity of thought, greatly enrich our culture and produce research that meaningfully affects society.

Unfortunately, international students face unprecedented challenges while studying in the United States at this time. The global pandemic combined with ever-changing immigration policies are creating an environment of stress and uncertainty.

The new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidance announced this week for international students on F-1 visas has created a particularly challenging situation. The new guidance rescinded many of the leniencies that were put in place due to COVID-19, and most notably, requires that international students enrolled in fully online programs in Fall 2020 leave the U.S. and return to their home countries.

To remain in the U.S., students MUST be enrolled in at least one (three-credit) in-person course. The Office of Global Affairs is currently reviewing the course schedule of all international students. Any student who does not meet the requirement is being contacted individually, and Global Affairs will work with their academic advisor to ensure they meet the requirements to remain physically present in the U.S. Traditionally, international students are limited to one class (three-credit) being taken online each semester, but under the ICE guidance, they are permitted to have an increased online course load.

A major concern about the new ICE guidance is the possible consequences if WVU is required to go fully online during the semester. As it is written, the guidance would require WVU to notify the Department of Homeland Security of the change in course delivery, and international students would, at that time, be required to depart the United States. WVU is aware of this possibility, and we are committed to doing everything within our power to keep our international students here. 

These new regulations are not the only challenge facing our international students. Presently, there are travel bans for non-citizens entering the United States from China, Iran, the Schengen area of Europe, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Brazil. Students coming from these countries face additional pressure and may not be able to return to attend in-person courses for the fall semester. Global Affairs has reached out and encouraged these students to have alternate schedules that allow them to make degree progress online from their home countries. 

WVU vigorously opposes the new regulations from ICE, and we strongly encourage the federal government to adjust its plan and allow international students to remain in the U.S., even those completing a fully online course load. Most immediately, we are focused on doing everything within our control to ensure that our international students will be able to continue their education at WVU in Fall 2020.

Ensuring the success and safety of the entire WVU family is our highest priority and we will continue to do everything we can to protect our international community. We will continue to keep the campus system updated as we learn new information about the impacts of immigration policies on our students, faculty and staff.

Sincerely,

Maryanne Reed
WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Amber Brugnoli
Associate Vice President and Executive Director, Office of Global Affairs

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