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U of M to help international students comply with ICE directive

The university's Twin Cities campus had about 6,100 international students this spring, or about 12 percent of its more than 49,000 students.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota is reviewing its fall semester plans to make sure that international students aren't forced to leave the country under new guidance from federal immigration authorities.

The guidelines Monday from the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement say international students must leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools plan to offer classes entirely online this fall. The guidelines are adding new pressure on universities to reopen even as the coronavirus is resurging in many parts of the country.

They also come as President Donald Trump has demanded that schools and colleges reopen and return to in-person instruction.

Minnesota was already planning to offer a mix of online and in-person classes. President Joan Gabel said in a note to students and faculty Tuesday that the school is reviewing its fall semester hybrid instruction so that in-person classes can be offered where needed to make sure international students comply with the new guidance.

International students “should not be penalized” for the public health measures being taken to help control the virus, Gabel wrote.

The university's Twin Cities campus had about 6,100 international students this spring, or about 12 percent of its more than 49,000 students. A loss of international students would also heighten budget pressure on the university since those students typically pay higher tuition.

The school's International Student and Scholar Services also published new guidance on Tuesday in response to ICE's policy. "We know this announcement has caused stress and frustration for many in our campus community," the department said on its website. "At ISSS, our priorities are responding to individual student questions, updating the campus community, and advocating against these new guidelines."

The department also issued the following bullet points:

  • The University of Minnesota has chosen a hybrid model for fall instruction, which offers flexibility for international students who are on campus. The University is committed to ensuring international students will have in-person options so students will be allowed to stay in the U.S.
  • Continuing students who will be outside of the United States for the fall semester are allowed to take online coursework. However, because of these changes, students who reside outside the U.S. will no longer be able to maintain their F visa status, which may have additional consequences should they plan to return to the U.S. as a student in the future.
  • New international students will be able to take all their courses online from outside the United States.
  • Graduate students who are conducting research and/or taking thesis-only credits will have sufficient in-person contact hours to meet the requirements.
  • ISSS is working on plans for the required reissuing of I-20 documents.

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