ICE reverses controversial policy for international students

Amid the flood of breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic and racial awakening for the country,  ICE announced last week students studying with F-1 and M-1 visas through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)  were prohibited from taking a full course load online, and risked deportation if they didn’t attend at least one class in-person. Likewise, students wishing to come to a university where they were planning to conduct the semester virtually, would be barred entry from the U.S.

This announcement came as schools and universities across the country debated on how to reopen this coming fall.

The SEVP permitted a temporary exemption during the spring and summer semesters in response to a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

California State University’s Chancellor Timothy P. White decided back in May that all 23 campuses would conduct online, or distance learning, this fall.  However, when the updated ICE policy was released, White joined the State of Calif.’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration. 

ICE and their parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, then rescinded their new policy during a hearing Tuesday in Boston between Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

“The government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020, policy directive and the frequently asked questions, the FAQ’s, that were released the next day on July 7,” said U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs of Boston. “They have also agreed to rescind any implementation of the directive.”

Since the hearing, ICE has not commented on the matter. While they are quiet, international students, peers and instructors celebrate this victory.

In an email sent Tuesday afternoon, San Diego State President Adela de la Torre and Interim Associate Vice President for Global Affairs Cristina Alfaro shared their elation surrounding the decision. 

Such a policy was unrealistic and problematic, and would have significantly hampered the teaching and research missions of public higher education across the nation, including our own,” de la Torre and Alfaro wrote.

The email also encourages new international students, incoming freshmen and transfer students, to fill out the survey sent last week. Returning international students no longer need to fill out the survey if they have not already done so.

De la Torre and Alfaro expressed gratitude for the nearly 1,800 international students at SDSU and said such students “are an integral part of our SDSU family and meaningfully enhance our community.” The email also thanked the Global affairs team and other campus members for their support. 

Students with questions regarding their specific situation can email the International Student Center at for more information. 


This story was provided through the Cal State Student Wire and was written by Taylor Helmes, Managing Editor at The Bulletin for Cal State Dominguez Hills

Daily Aztec News Editor Jadyn Brandt contributed SDSU specific reporting.