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GRC responds to recent ICE announcement of policy changes affecting international students

By GRC President Suzanne Johnson and Wendy Stewart, vice president, International Programs and Extended Learning, July 10, 2020

Dear Green River College Community -

On July 6, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an unexpected change in policy related to COVID-19 and fall 2020. This decision impacts international students studying at Green River.

This decision modifies a March 13 emergency waiver put in place in response to COVID-19 which allowed international students to maintain their F-1 visa status while taking only online courses either in the U.S. or in their home country. This was a critical option for students studying at colleges, like Green River, that moved to remote instruction due to the pandemic. The July 6 announcement indicates that international students on F-1 visas would be required to leave the U.S. if they take all online classes fall 2020.

As you can imagine, this abrupt announcement caused panic among our international students and their families, adding to the already heightened stress related to dealing with the global pandemic.

Here is what Green River is doing.

  1. First and most importantly, the Green River College community stands with our international students. We welcome, support, and care for our Green River international students.
  2. Green River has joined other higher education institutions in support of the State of Washington’s legal challenge of the Department of Homeland Security policies announced by ICE on July 6, 2020.
  3. Green River College has joined the American Council on Education and signed onto the Higher Education Community Institutional letter to Congress challenging the July 6th ICE guidance.
  4. International Programs staff are communicating with students and overseas partners. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance directly to students in the coming days.
  5. International Programs Management Team thoroughly reviewed the ICE announcement. The regulations allow international students to study in the U.S. if they are enrolled at a college or university that is operating either fully in-person or with a mix of online and in-person instruction. At Green River, fall quarter classes are planned to operate with a mix and will be mostly remote with some limited on-campus, in-person instruction. We have developed a class that will meet the federal requirements.
  6. IP Advisors will work closely with international students to ensure that their fall course schedules meet federal requirements for their F-1 visa.

Many of you have reached out to express your concern about the current ICE guidance. We know that Green River supports and stands by our international students and all they contribute to our college community. We will keep you posted with any updates and developments as they occur.

Suzanne and Wendy


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