No First-Year International Students at Harvard This Fall

Thursday, 23 Jul 2020

No First-Year International Students at Harvard This Fall

A Dean of Harvard has told prospective international students they could not come to the university in the coming fall semester because the Trump administration has not changed immigration rules on online teaching.

Previous plans to deny entry into the US for returning international students if their course moves to online only in the fall was withdrawn last week after a lawsuit from Harvard and MIT.

On Tuesday, Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana wrote to all students sharing “the difficult news that our first-year international students will not be able to come to campus this fall,”. He continued to clarify that despite the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division’s withdrawal of previous guidance that would have prohibited returning international students from entering the country, the reversal does not apply to first years who require an F-1 visa.

When ICE withdrew their previous guidance, the long-standing existing policy of denying F-1 visas for incoming international students whose learning is remote for more than 3 credit hours came back into effect. This will remain in place until updated guidance is released from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration has voiced her frustration, stating the situation “undermines our nation’s standing as the destination of choice for international students”.

It is understood Harvard are pursuing alternative options that could allow for first-year international students to return to campus, but they do not anticipate any change in policy in time for the fall semester. For now, students have been told to prepare for starting their Harvard experience remotely by learning in their home countries or defer their start date.

The 2020-2021 academic year is expected to witness an extraordinarily low international student intake with enrolment figures set to decline 63% to 98% from the 2018-2019 level. 

Are you a first-year international student at Harvard? Let us know how you feel about studying remotely by joining the conversation on our Instagram page.

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