On Monday, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which governs Idaho State University’s ability to grant I-20 visas to international students, issued a new set of guidelines impacting all colleges and universities. There has been a large and understandable amount of concern expressed by our international student community. As a follow-up to these recent guidelines, the University sent an email to all international students this morning that included information about their options to be in compliance. The student email is included below for your reference.
It is important that students know we are committed to helping them enroll and make progress towards their degrees. Idaho State will work closely with academic programs and the International Programs Office to ensure that international students’ course schedules meet federal guidelines and do not impact immigration status.
Students attending U.S. schools that have adopted a hybrid model of online and in-person classes will be allowed to take more than one class in a distance-based format. Idaho State currently plans to use a hybrid model for the Fall 2020 semester, which means that our international students will be able to remain at the University as long as the following information can be verified and certified on a student’s I-20:
- The school is not operating entirely online.
- The student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester.
- The student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.
In other words, as long as an Idaho State University international student is taking at least one class that requires their on-campus presence for instruction, evaluation, research, or a similar course-related educational activity, they are not required to exit the U.S.
The Graduate School, International Programs Office, and Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management are exploring options for students, and more details will be shared in the near future. The University will also be reaching out to individual programs to discuss any particular challenges they may be facing.
International students who cannot reach the U.S., but want to take classes this fall will also have options. Because all classes will be recorded during fall semester, international students who are unable to be in the U.S. will have access to class sessions asynchronously, which for many students will be enough for them to continue to make progress toward their degree. In other instances, in-class participation, labs, practicums, etc., may mean that simply accessing the class asynchronously is not sufficient to allow the student to successfully complete the course. Individual programs know best whether students working remotely will be able to complete coursework successfully, and should advise their students accordingly. If a department feels they cannot provide distance-based learning that will provide meaningful progress towards a degree, please contact Academic Affairs.
For students enrolled in a graduate program who are unable to return to the U.S., retaining funding might not be possible. Please contact the Graduate school if you believe an international student’s work assignment may be accomplished remotely, and the University will help to facilitate this option. The Graduate School has limited resources available to help students who may find themselves without funding that they previously depended on to complete their studies. Faculty and department chairs should work directly with the Graduate School to explore options that will offset tuition costs for international students.
We expect our international students will reach out directly to their faculty mentors or advisors to receive information and assurance during this changing situation. It is important to let our students know that we will help to meet their goals and remain in the U.S., if they choose. Encourage them to register for the courses they need, and we will audit their course schedules to identify any potential issues. International students who may be experiencing difficulties should also directly reach out to the International Programs Office for further assistance.
Thank you for your commitment to helping all Idaho State students during this ever-changing situation. Please know that the University is working hard to secure the options, resources, and information necessary to successfully navigate this situation.