Continuing Support for International Students

To: Members of the University Community
From: Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Continuing Support for International Students
Date: July 8, 2020

Members of the international community at the University of Chicago have had to confront many difficulties in recent months, ranging from travel restrictions related to COVID-19 to government actions affecting immigrants and visitors to the United States. We are writing to reaffirm, in the strongest terms, our University’s continuing commitment to welcoming and supporting scholars, students and staff from all parts of the world.

On July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced plans to restrict the ability of international students taking remote classes during the fall 2020 academic term to remain in the United States. Many details of this policy change are not yet clear, and we are working with colleagues across campus, professional associations, and peer institutions to fully understand the implications of the change, and to engage Congress and the Department of Homeland Security on its negative impacts. The full text of the new guidance is available here, and additional FAQs are posted here.

We firmly oppose this new measure and will work to lessen its impact on the University’s international students.

We are proud that thousands of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from other countries have chosen to pursue studies at the University of Chicago. The potential exclusion of these students endangers our core commitment to welcoming people from all backgrounds to participate in intellectual life at the University. This is a time for policies that uphold public health while advancing the status of the United States as a destination for scholars and students from all nations. We will not allow the current pandemic to change our unwavering commitment of openness to the world.

We will continue to fully support our students in making progress toward their degrees, regardless of their nations of origin. Steps taken so far include:

  • All degree programs will offer a wide range of courses remotely, so international students who are unable to return to Chicago should be able to continue their studies remotely.
  • The University currently plans to hold in-person classes in Chicago, and the College is exploring opportunities to offer some first-year courses and community building in our Center in Paris and Yuen Campus in Hong Kong, which would afford additional options for international students.
  • UChicagoGRAD is providing a number of resources, including events and workshops, specifically for international graduate students.

The schools, divisions and the College will share additional information and steps to support our international students in the coming weeks. If you have questions or concerns about U.S. policies affecting international students, contact Nick Seamons, director of the Office of International Affairs.