Reversal of Recent International Student Visa Restrictions

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

Higher education communities across the United States, and the international students they serve, experienced great relief and an important victory today when it was announced that the federal government would rescind the July 6 Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy directive calling for visa restrictions for international students taking online-only courses at U.S. colleges and universities this fall. As a result, the U.S. Government will return to the previous guidance issued on March 9 and March 13, 2020.  

This reversal in policy is an important recognition of the extraordinary contributions that international students and scholars make to our university communities. From the moment the original policy directive was issued, Brown faculty, students and staff wrote expressing deep concern, seeking to ensure that we would do all that we could to support our international students.

While we are confident that our current plans for AY 2020-21 -- which call for a hybrid model with both online and numerous in-person courses or sections/recitations -- would have provided the basis for international students enrolled at Brown to secure a visa and not be blocked by this order, the policy would have affected many thousands of students enrolled at institutions across the country. 

We are grateful to MIT and Harvard and the more than 200 institutions across the United States, including Brown, who opposed the Department of Homeland Security’s July 6 & 7 SEVP guidance.

Many offices across the University, including the Offices of Global Engagement, General Counsel, and Community and Government Relations, pay careful ongoing attention to these matters. We will continue to advocate for policies and actions that support the academic success and well-being of members of the international community.


Richard M. Locke