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FAQs in Response to July 6, 2020 ICE Announcement

Updated July 14, 2020: The federal government agreed to rescind its July 6 guidance requiring nonimmigrant students who are not taking in-person classes in autumn 2020 to leave the United States. The government has instead reverted to the guidance issued in March, which allows international students to participate in online or in-person instruction without affecting visa status. In the coming days, the university will issue further guidance to our international students about plans for this fall. For now, we are delighted that this obstacle to their continued progress towards their degrees has been removed. Read a message from President Tessier-Lavigne. 
 



The July 6, 2020, announcement from ICE  has raised many questions and created uncertainty and anxiety for our international students. This FAQ is intended to share what we know at this point. 

Since this situation is rapidly evolving, and the announcement does not provide much clarity, we will continue to update this document as we get further guidance. Please make sure to regularly check this FAQ as well as  Stanford’s website Stanford Immigration Issues and Resources for the latest immigration news. You can also always  reach out to the Bechtel international Center with questions and concerns.

Please know that Stanford University and all of us at the Bechtel International Center remain steadfast in our commitment to all international students. 

What does the July 6 announcement from SEVP entail?
On July 6, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that for the upcoming fall quarter, it would no longer provide exemptions for international students taking online classes due to the pandemic. This announcement withdraws the exemptions made by SEVP in March, and outlines three different school models. It places new restrictions on F-1 students depending on the model the students’ sponsoring school has adopted for fall: either online, in-person or hybrid. Stanford’s plan for the upcoming academic year fits within the definition of the “hybrid” model, meaning a mixture of online and in-person classes. This announcement is currently applicable for fall 2020 only, and does not impact J-1 Students and postdocs 

Does a course with an online lecture and an in-person requirement count as an in-person class?
The announcement is simply unclear at this time. Our current understanding is that some component of the class must require that students be present in-person as a part of their coursework. When we have more clarity, we will update this FAQ and notify students. 

Can international students take a full online course load while in the United States?
No, students should not take exclusively online courses. As long as Santa Clara County health officials permit us to do so, Stanford will follow a hybrid system that provides a combination of in-person and online education to ensure that students can enroll in hybrid courses every quarter. 

Will international students be required to take all in-person classes?
No. International students can take a combination of hybrid and online courses. While the announcement does not provide complete clarity, our understanding is that there is no required minimum or maximum credit hour/percentage for the in-person component of a hybrid course, nor is there a specific number of hybrid or in-person courses international students must take. The announcement instructs Bechtel to indicate on each student’s I-20 that the student’s course load is not entirely online and that the student is taking the minimum number of online courses required to make progress toward a degree. With this in mind, international students should avoid selecting a fall 2020 schedule made up exclusively of online courses. 

I am a new F-1 graduate student  in fall 2020. Does this announcement affect me?
Yes, it does. Since Stanford is a hybrid school, all students will need to enroll in a combination of hybrid and online classes.

We recognize that some of our incoming graduate students may not be able to obtain visa stamps in time to make it to campus to attend classes in the fall. In this case, we ask that you inform your department and the Bechtel International Center so we can amend your visa document with a start date for the next quarter.

We will do everything we can to ensure students who are unable to enter the United States can continue their education remotely.  

I am a new F-1 graduate student planning to live on campus this fall.  What is the latest date by which I must arrive at Stanford?
Bechtel International Center is required by immigration regulations to register all international students in the SEVIS system. The SEVIS registration must be completed by October 2.

But while Bechtel requires students to be on campus no later than October 2 for immigration purposes, your department may require you to be on campus by an earlier date.  Please check the latest acceptable entry date with your department.  

We also recognize that current COVID-related travel restrictions and consular closures may prevent many of our international students from entering the United States or obtaining a visa. We sincerely hope that these obstacles will also be resolved soon. We will do everything we can to ensure students who are unable to enter the United States can continue their education remotely. 

If you are not able to join us on campus for the fall, please inform the Bechtel International Center and your department. Bechtel will amend your visa document (I-20) for a start date for the next quarter. 

I am a first-year F-1 undergraduate student scheduled to live on campus this fall. Does this announcement affect me?
Yes, it does. As long as Santa Clara County health officials permit us to do so, Stanford will follow a hybrid system that provides a combination of in-person and online education. International students should enroll in hybrid courses every quarter. 

I am a first-year F-1 undergraduate student planning to live on campus this fall.  What is the latest date by which I must arrive at Stanford?
Undergraduate classes start on September 14, and orientation plans are still being arranged. Stanford has not yet determined the latest date of required arrival for international frosh.  

We also recognize that current COVID-related travel restrictions and consular closures may prevent many of our international students from entering the United States or obtaining a visa. We sincerely hope that these obstacles will also be resolved soon. We will do everything we can to ensure students who are unable to enter the United States can continue their education remotely. 

If you are unable to join us in the fall, please inform Bechtel and we will amend your visa document (I-20) for a start date for the next quarter. When we have more clarity, we will update this FAQ and notify students of the requirements for coming to the United States in the winter quarter. 

I am a returning F-1 student but live in a country where a travel ban prevents me from returning to Stanford this fall. Does this announcement affect me?
Yes it does. Please contact the Bechtel International Center at internationalstudents@stanford.edu for more information.

I am a rising international junior/senior in F-1 status, but Stanford has not invited my class back for the fall quarter. Will this announcement impact me?
International undergraduate students, regardless of cohort class year, will be eligible for campus housing fall, winter and spring quarters. Once international students are on campus, they will be allowed to enroll in classes for three consecutive quarters. Students should request campus housing during a quarter outside their designated quarters here by July 16.

I am an international student on campus at Stanford. Does this announcement affect me?
Yes, it does. As long as Santa Clara County health officials permit us to do so, Stanford will follow a hybrid system that provides a combination of in-person and online education. International students should enroll in hybrid courses every quarter. 

I am a new incoming student who has transferred my SEVIS record to Stanford and am now outside the United States. Does this announcement affect me?
We are seeking further clarification on this question. When we have more clarity, we will update this FAQ and notify students of the requirements. 

As a transfer student, will I be able to keep my same SEVIS number?  Will I need to obtain a new visa in my passport? Will I have to pay the SEVIS fee again?
This announcement does not change anything for transfer students. You will be able to retain the same SEVIS number and when you attend classes in the fall, Bechtel International Center will issue a “transfer completed” I-20 with your original SEVIS number. You will be allowed to use the previous visa stamp in your passport issued for the previous school as long as your SEVIS numbers are identical. You will not need to pay the SEVIS fee again as long as your SEVIS number is the same.

If I can only return to campus in winter 2021, will Bechtel issue a new I-20, or can I return with my current I-20? Will I have to reapply for a new F-1 visa?
We are seeking further clarification on this set of questions. When we have more clarity, we will update this FAQ and notify continuing students of the requirements for returning to the U.S. in the winter quarter. Your unexpired F-1 visa stamp in your passport should remain valid.

I’m a TGR PhD student. My research is remote at the moment because Stanford has asked all researchers to work from home if possible. Does the ICE announcement affect me?
The new announcement does not address this issue of students in TGR status. Our current understanding is that this announcement does not impact you. If this were to change, we will update this FAQ and notify continuing students of the requirements.

Do I need to get a new I-20 to show I will be taking a mix of online and in-person classes at Stanford?
Yes, the Department of Homeland Security is requiring schools to issue new I-20s. The I-20 must certify that “the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the Fall 2020 quarter, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.” Bechtel has already started the process of reissuing I-20s. These I-20s will be sent to you digitally.

I am a J-1 Student. Does this announcement impact me?
No, this announcement only impacts F-1 students 

I am a postdoc. Does this announcement impact me?
No. Postdocs are generally in J, H or F-1 OPT or F-1 OPT STEM status. This announcement outlines restrictions to F-1 students who are still enrolled in courses at their sponsoring institutions. So it does not impact postdocs who are in J and H status. Even though those in OPT and STEM OPT are still in F-1 status, they have completed their programs of study and are engaged in work-related training so this announcement will not impact them.

How does the new announcement affect the spouses and minor children of international students?
Spouses and minor children are considered dependents of a principal non-immigrant applicant (F-1), so whatever the principal does impacts the spouse and children. If the primary visa holder maintains F-1 status, then the spouse and children should be able to maintain their F-2 status.

Will departments have to modify their course offerings to accommodate the new ICE announcement? Do international students have to take a certain percentage of courses in-person in order to comply with the announcement?
At this time, the announcement from ICE does not indicate a percentage or credit-hour minimum for in-person study, only that a student may not take an “entirely online course load.” When we have more clarity, we will update this FAQ and notify students of the requirements.

What is Stanford doing to advocate for international students?
President Tessier-Lavigne has sent a letter to the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to express our strong opposition to this order. The letter urges the department not to go forward with this rule and instead to extend the guidance offered this spring, which would allow international students to take online courses in the U.S. if that is the best we can offer. Stanford is also taking legal action.The university and 58 other institutions have filed an amicus brief in support of a Harvard/MIT lawsuit seeking to prohibit enforcement of the new rule. We expect a judge to rule on this case in the coming days. In addition, Stanford has joined 19 colleges and universities in the western United States in a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block implementation of the new rule.

I am feeling overwhelmed by this announcement and need to talk to someone. Where can I find support at Stanford?
Knowing that this is a tremendously uncertain and stressful time for international students, we encourage those in need to reach out for support. The following resources are available to all students (CR indicates confidential resources).

  • Counseling and Psychological Services on-call is available for all students 24/7 at (650) 723-3785. CR

  • Well-Being at Stanford offers coaching for students and many more resources. https://vaden.stanford.edu/well-being/coaching to schedule. For questions, email the office at yourwellbeing@stanford.edu.

  • The Residence Dean on-call is available to help undergraduates 24/7 at (650) 504-8022.

  • The Graduate Life Office dean on-call is available to help graduate and professional school students 24/7 at (650) 723-7288. Provide pager ID number #25085 to the operator.

  • The First Generation and/or Low-Income Office is available to support international students. Contact information is available on the FLI Office website.

  • The Office for Religious Life offers pastoral care and spiritual guidance to students, faculty, staff and postdocs, and can be reached at (650) 723-1762. CR

  • The Bridge Peer Counseling Center offers counseling by trained students 24/7 at (650) 723-3392.