Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson
Administrators answered questions and provided resources for international students amid national visa policy changes and travel bans. The discussion was a third part of a series related to Northwestern’s plan to return to campus.
Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that newly enrolling international students will be barred from entering the country if they’re taking an entirely online course load in the fall. This came after ICE had rescinded guidelines prohibiting all international students taking online-only course loads from remaining in the country following nationwide backlash and lawsuits.
Annelise Riles, executive director of the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, said she was personally disappointed in the federal government as a result of the policy reversal. She said she shares students’ frustrations with the sudden change in immigration rules and believes the guidelines are damaging to our national interest.
“Let me state clearly: we are opposed to these new regulations and restrictions, but we are committed to working with you to navigate them,” Riles said.
One major issue Riles cited as a barrier for international students to arrive in the country is the closure of American embassies and consulates abroad due to coronavirus, which means many students have been unable to interview for or receive a visa stamp.
Another problem is that the United States has imposed travel bans barring travelers from several countries with high COVID-19 cases, including China, Iran and Brazil. The U.S. State Department has also imposed a ban on the U.K., Ireland and most countries in the European Union, but Riles said an exception was made last week for international students.
“If you’re from a country that has a travel ban, you will need to study remotely, or if that option is available to defer your enrollment for a year,” Riles said. “If you’re a returning student, and you have a valid F-1 visa, you have lots of choices.”
Sarah Wake, associate general counsel, said while the new regulations will apply to incoming students at NU, international students taking at least one class with an in-person component — either face-to-face or hybrid — will be allowed to stay in the U.S. When signing up for the hybrid class, she said those students will have to enroll in the in-person section, which means they must be present in Evanston to stay in the country.
For any international students traveling to the U.S., Theresa Johnson from the Office of International Student and Scholar Services said they can arrive up to 30 days before or after their program starts. That said, if students are unable to arrive on campus before the start of classes, she said students should contact their academic program because some curriculums will not allow for a late start.
“We want you to be successful academically, so for some students if you can’t arrive in time for your classes to start, it might be best for you to do your classes remotely for the fall and then enter the U.S. for the winter term,” Johnson said. “This way you don’t need to manage jet lag and (move) to a new place in the middle of an already hectic academic term.”
Luke Figora, senior associate vice president and chief risk and compliance officer, said while there aren’t specific quarantine requirements from the city of Evanston upon arrival from other states or countries, this matter will soon be addressed in a community-wide email.
The current working premise, Figora said, is that the University expects on-campus students to start arriving on Sept. 6 and before Sept. 9 “at the absolute latest.”
“There will be a quarantine period associated with that,” Figora said. “For students on campus, that quarantine period would clearly happen in a residence hall, in your own individual dorm room. Things like meals would be coordinated through that time.”
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— ICE says newly enrolling international students cannot come to the U.S. if taking entirely online courses
— DHS and ICE to rescind guidelines barring international students taking online courses
— What the new ICE regulations may mean for international Northwestern students