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American University

July 8, 2020

Dear AU Community,

On July 6, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued new guidance that requires international students studying in the United States to attend at least some in-person classes in Fall 2020 or risk losing their immigration status. This guidance does not affect international students who reside physically outside of the US and plan to take their classes fully online in the fall from outside of the US even if AU is operating within a hybrid modality.

This news has created deep confusion and anxiety for international students, their families and friends. We are deeply dismayed and disappointed that, in the midst of a pandemic, a guidance has been issued that amplifies fear, uncertainty and anxiety among our international students and fails to recognize the complex and changing realities of their current situation.

Our international students and scholars already face complications related to travel to and from their home countries, unwelcoming immigration policies, and unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19, and we know that this new guidance only adds to this list of difficult life circumstances.

We are carefully reviewing the details and implications of this guidance and are committed to finding ways to avoid having our international students’ studies disrupted by this potential rule change. International students and scholars join our community in the pursuit of knowledge and contribute enormously to AU, Washington, DC, and the world at large. We want all of our international students to know that you are an essential part of who we are.

We will work with our colleague institutions and the higher education associations of which we are members, such as the American Council on Education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, to advocate on behalf of international students and scholars and to urge federal officials to amend the guidance.

These are very difficult and challenging times, and have been made more so by this troubling guidance.

Please be well and stay safe.


Fanta Aw
Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

Peter Starr
Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer