Update on International Student Visa Rules

A message from President Harring to the Muhlenberg College community

 Monday, July 13, 2020 09:20 AM

To the Muhlenberg Community,

Last week I shared information about the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) unexpected announcement that it will modify the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding online course instruction for international students with F-1 visas. Since then, the College has added our voice to national efforts to address this unfair and harmful ruling. 

Muhlenberg has joined an amicus brief with more than 60 other colleges and universities in support of the Harvard and MIT lawsuit that is attempting to block the rule from being put in place. The College also became a member of The President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. This organization is also working to address the ICE ruling. Additionally, Muhlenberg signed on to a letter drafted by the American Council on Education (ACE) urging Congress to request the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to withdraw the ICE directive or to pass legislation that protects the status of international students at our institutions. 

On campus, the Office of International Student Support (OISS) has worked closely with the provost and student affairs offices to communicate the current structures we have in place to support our international students as well as the targeted efforts we can provide for the Fall semester given the new restrictions. Weekly OISS office hours and individual student appointments have been occurring throughout the summer to ensure our students understand the projected new guidelines for the fall, both institutional and government. In conjunction with the International Student Advisory Committee, as well as with academic and student life offices, resources regarding the fall semester are being developed for both international students and our faculty. To be clear, the new temporary guidance enables students in the U.S. to take a “minimum number” of online courses while they take at least one course with in-person components. An international student who is outside the U.S. and unable to return to campus this fall can still take their entire fall course load fully online as visa status guidelines only pertain to students inside the U.S. The Office of Information Technology is developing resources for faculty and those students taking courses in their home country.

Many people have asked how they can help. I encourage you to join me in calling and writing your members of Congress to lodge your opposition to the rule. Any international students asking questions about the new SEVP guidance for the fall should be directed to the Office of International Student Support. 

Please contact any of the following College resources for support or if you have additional questions: 

Thank you to the many students, faculty and staff who have voiced their support both individually and collectively for our international students. We are committed to working together as a community to make sure that all Muhlenberg students have equitable access to their education.


Kathleen E. Harring