ICE Guidance for Autumn 2020

UPDATE: July 14, 2020

In a hearing before a federal district judge today (July 14), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it is withdrawing July 6 guidance barring F-1 students from remaining in the U.S. and enrolling in online courses only. Additional updates will be made as soon as information becomes available. 

On July 6, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with oversight of the F-1 student visa program, issued policy guidance related to international students on F-1 visas taking remote classes during the fall 2020 academic term. 

The guidance is brief and addresses the ability of international students on F-1 visas to remain in the United States depending on the nature of their educational programs and the courses in which they are enrolled. 

Unlike previous executive orders, proclamations, and even previous guidance on adaptations due to COVID-19, the information released by ICE for autumn 2020 is still being analyzed to understand its parameters and these apply to our newly admitted and current international students.  

Please know we are working with others on-campus, with our professional associations, and our peer institutions to fully understand the implications of and inform our collective response to this policy guidance.

The Office of International Affairs is disappointed by and opposed to this guidance and will continue to do everything we can to provide support and clear information to the international students at the University of Chicago. 

To clarify:

  • The ICE guidance and subsequent FAQs are specific to F-1 student visa holders; the J-1 student visa program is not impacted by this guidance.
  • Guidance indicates the University should re-issue I-20 documents to students based on the definition of the program (e.g. hybrid or online only, etc.). We will share information about how we plan to approach this process as soon as we have additional clarification on the issue.
    • Please note: OIA will reprint all documents en masse once it has been determined this step is necessary. Students will not need to contact OIA to request an updated document. 
  • The University opposes this new measure and is collaborating with peer institutions and professional associations, and is engaging Congress and the Department of Homeland Security on the direct and negative impact these measures have on our international students.

OIA will continue to provide updates. 

  • The full text of today’s guidance is available here
  • DHS FAQs on this guidance is available here.
  • President Zimmer and Provost Lee's statement "Legal Actions in Support of International Students" (July 13) is available here. 
  • President Zimmer and Provost Lee's statement "Further University Steps in Support of International Students" (July 10) is available here.
  • President Zimmer and Provost Lee's statement "Continuing Support for International Students" (July 8) on this issue is available here.
  • Association of American Universities (AAU) statement is available here.
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators analysis and resources are available here.

In the meantime, please reach out to OIA Director, Nick Seamons, if you have questions.