Homeland Security Rescinds Policy Directive

Published July 14, 2020

Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program requiring international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities that are transitioning to online-only courses this fall to leave the country or risk violating their visa status.

This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded the aforementioned changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Over the course of the last nine days, the University at Buffalo has been actively working on behalf of our international students to successfully overturn this ill-conceived and detrimental policy change.

Because this directive would have adversely impacted all of U.S. higher education, UB—as an active member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the American Council on Education (ACE)— signed a letter to Congressional leadership urging the DHS to withdraw it.

Further, UB, in concert with our fellow SUNY university centers, petitioned the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, again, for the withdrawal of the ICE directive. In addition, UB, along with SUNY’s four university centers, had been working with our respective federal delegations to compel the DHS and ICE to retreat from the aforementioned directive.

As well, UB played a leading role in a lawsuit brought in conjunction with SUNY and the New York State Attorney General’s Office to rescind the recent regulatory guidance.

As I noted in a communication to our university community last Wednesday, from our founding, our international students have immeasurably enriched the University at Buffalo. Their diversity of background, perspective and lived experience greatly enhances UB’s research, education and engagement mission. As always, the University at Buffalo is committed to providing all of our students with a transformative educational experience so that we can make a positive impact on our local and global communities.

In closing, it was heartening to see the entire U.S. higher education community coming together on behalf of international students to effectively compel the Department of Homeland Security to rescind the policy directive. Rest assured that we will continue to monitor the policy landscape for our international students. At UB, it is our collective imperative that all of our students can achieve their educational goals and professional aspirations.