News and Information

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Message for Campus

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Below you will find a message sent international students regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced proposed guidance on online course limits for international students on F-1 visas for Fall 2020 (the guidance does not apply to J-1 students) from Assistant Dean Barbara Kappler:

Dear international students,

I am writing regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced proposed guidance on online course limits for international students on F-1 visas for Fall 2020 (the guidance does not apply to J-1 students). We, like you, were only notified of these proposed changes on Monday, and we share your anger and frustration regarding what they could mean for international students this fall.

We are working with UMN President Joan Gabel, Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs Meredith McQuaid, and others across the University to determine what the guidance means within the context of the University of Minnesota’s plans for Fall 2020 (if you have not already, I encourage you to read President Gabel’s message). While there are many questions to answer, here is what we can tell you for certain:

  • The University of Minnesota is committed to giving you and all international students the options necessary to ensure you can stay in the United States this fall if you wish. The University of Minnesota has chosen to use a hybrid model for the 2020 fall semester. As such, international students will be able to take mostly online classes while in the United States—as long as not all of your classes are online. We are discussing what options can be created. 
  • Continuing students who will be outside of the United States for the fall semester are allowed to take online coursework. Tuesday, follow-up information was published to clarify and expand on the initial guidelines. This document states that students taking courses online outside of the U.S. will be able to maintain their F-1 status. 
  • Graduate students who are conducting research and/or taking thesis-only credits will have sufficient in-person contact hours to meet the requirements.
  • The University has plans that will allow new international students to take classes either in the United States or at home.
  • ISSS is developing a plan for reissuing I-20 documents in accordance with the proposed rules, and we will send further information when that is available.

We and the rest of the University community care about you and the experience all international students will have this fall whether you will be on campus or outside of the United States. We are working to limit the disruption of this new guidance. Upon announcement of the rules, many faculty and staff reached out to inquire as to the impact of the changes and how the campus could respond. We are very proud that the University stands in solidarity with you, our international students, and values your perspectives and ability to progress toward your degree. 

There are many other outstanding factors to address, and ISSS is working with administrators, faculty, and staff from across campus to address these concerns. We are working on solutions and will provide updates as information is clarified. Feel free to contact ISSS with questions related to immediate travel or other urgent concerns. ISSS advisers are available for conversations online or through the phone.


The staff of ISSS joins with those who are speaking out against these new regulations. NAFSA: Association of International Educators, an organization where many of us are members, issued a statement declaring that this guidance from ICE is harmful to international students. Further, the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration also issued a statement condemning the new guidelines, stating “we call on ICE to reverse course and provide greater flexibility.”


"Perspectives" stories are the views and opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the University of Minnesota.