July 8: Bates’ response to guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Dear Members of the Bates Community:

I write with an update on the college’s response to the July 6 guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with respect to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and remote learning. From the moment this was issued, we have been reviewing the guidance with our counsel while also working directly with our international students to provide support and guidance.

FAQs for International Students

The Center for Global Education has issued this comprehensive set of FAQs for international students regarding directives issued from ICE on July 6, 2020.

This morning, colleagues from the Center for Global Education (CGE) and members of the Fall Planning Team hosted a virtual forum for all new and returning international students. Virtual forums, along with individual advising appointments, will continue in the coming days and weeks to be sure that all of our international students have access to the most up-to-date information.

Our fall plan invites Bates students to return to campus in person or to study remotely. This choice lies solely with our students and their families, depending on their personal circumstances. Because Bates has adopted this “hybrid” academic model, involving a combination of in-person and online instruction, international students who come to campus in the fall will maintain their F-1 visa status in the U.S., so long as their academic course of study does not consist entirely of online courses and they are taking courses required for normal progress in the degree program.

We have also learned that while international students are able to remain home and enroll in remote courses, there may be negative implications for their CPT or OPT eligibility. As we continue to work with an immigration attorney to interpret these directives — both what is stated and what is not stated — we will share what we learn with international students so that we may provide the members of this community with clear guidance.

These new directives from ICE undercut our ability to educate students fully, cause unnecessary fear and anxiety, and run contrary to our national interest in positioning the U.S. as the higher education destination for talented and ambitious students from across the globe. Further, they directly undermine Bates’ ability to fully live up to our commitment to access, equity, and inclusion. In response, Bates is marshalling resources, both our own and in collaboration with other colleges and universities, to assist our international students.

Bates is in contact with members of Maine’s federal delegation to articulate our vigorous objection to these misguided new directives. We are also working actively with our Washington-based industry groups (e.g., the American Council on Education) to advocate for a change in the policy. Finally, we will participate, through the ACE, in an amicus brief to be filed in a lawsuit launched today by MIT and Harvard, among others, seeking to block the current order.

While we navigate these pressing challenges, staff from the Center for Global Education and Student Affairs will be available to students who seek support and guidance. As we learn more about this situation, we will provide updated information on the CGE website.

Sincerely,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students