International students and scholars have been an integral part of the University of Pennsylvania from its earliest days. They are treasured members of our community who contribute to the diversity, vibrancy and intellectual excellence of Penn in countless important ways.
It was with great dismay that earlier this week we were informed that the federal government was changing its rules regarding international students, stipulating that students in online programs would have to leave the country, while creating confusion as to whether students overseas whose universities are offering courses in person will be able to maintain their immigration status. This move by ICE threatens hundreds of thousands of international students across the U.S. who were granted a waiver in the spring to remain in their degree programs when America’s universities moved to online courses to help address the public health crisis brought about by COVID-19.
Penn Global has reached out to all of our international students and is prepared to support them in fulfilling all of the necessary requirements to maintain a valid immigration status. Additionally, Penn will be joining with our Ivy League peers in filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed yesterday by Harvard and MIT to block enforcement of the government’s order.
The educational requirements for international students should be the same as for domestic students—not higher or different in any way. The United States government should be a partner with colleges and universities across the country in supporting international students during this challenging time and we will work through the courts and with our elected officials to reverse this misguided decision.
Monday’s announcement is one in a growing list of immigration policy changes that are having a devastating effect on our international colleagues and students, while also having a deleterious impact on America’s historical role as a welcoming place to all. These capricious changes create chaos in the lives of our students. Their place at Penn should never be questioned or doubted. We will continue to do all that we can to support their educational aspirations and their presence in our classrooms—whether in-person or online.