COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Update on International Students

July 8, 2020

Dear Middlebury Community, 

As many of you are aware, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday issued new restrictive guidelines regarding its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) which could affect our international students’ plans for the fall.  
 
MIT and Harvard recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding this troubling action, and I wanted you to know that Middlebury has joined many other colleges and universities to file a friend-of-the-court brief to support Harvard and MIT in this lawsuit. Middlebury will also support the work of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the American Council on Education (ACE), and other national associations expressing concern about the guidance. 

Middlebury is an active member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigrationwhose founding statement reads: We are an alliance of American college and university leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses, and communities. We support policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented, and international students on our campuses. The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration has made a statement today condemning the forthcoming ICE policy that would ban International students enrolled in online courses. Middlebury fully stands behind this statement.  

With Middlebury’s commitment to global education, we have an obligation to protect our international students, especially when policies place an undue burden on their ability to pursue an education. We must enable our students and programs to cross boundaries in as many ways as possible.  

We would like to thank all of you who have already stepped up to explore ways to help. We are grateful. Please know that we have been in touch with our students and are formulating answers to the new set of concerns raised by the latest ruling from ICE. The College has invited all of our students back to campus in the fall, so our non-immigrant students on F-1 or M-1 visas may not face the same constraints as those in our peer institutions who have declared fully online fall semesters. Still, we are taking several steps to ensure that our international students can participate fully. 

We are working with the dean of curriculum and the registrar’s office to ensure that our international students who are in the United States can register for in-person or hybrid classes. Currently, the ruling requires students to enroll in at least one in-person course. In those instances where a student is unable to meet the requirements for their major or curricular needs with in-person classes, we are encouraging them to explore the option of independent study courses. 

Our international students who returned home during the past few months now face the challenge of closed consular services, which makes it impossible for them to obtain the necessary paperwork and jeopardizes their plans to return to campus. With the current guidance we have, these students will be able to study remotely with Middlebury in the fall. We are also working with our international programs office to make alternative arrangements for course work.  

We want to underscore that we will do everything we can to help our international students continue their education at Middlebury, even as we face the uncertainty of government regulations. We will help them navigate these challenging new rules and ensure that they can make fully informed decisions.  

We appreciate your support of all our students as we make our way towards the new academic year.   

Best regards, 

Jeff Cason 
Provost  

Sujata Moorti 
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty  

Laurie Patton 
President

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