Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students

Deputy Director Matthew W. Albence
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
By email to [email protected]

Dear Deputy Director Albence,

The higher education community represented by the undersigned disciplinary societies urges Immigration and Customs Enforcement to revisit its decision to end temporary visa exemptions for international students whose upcoming coursework will be entirely online. Colleges and universities alike depend on the presence, physical and online, of international visa holders, and many undergraduate and, especially, graduate students cannot complete their work without access to the archival, library, laboratory, and technical resources of their institutions, whether classes are being held entirely online or not. 

International students are an important element of our institutions’ vitality and diversity, and the exemptions that were in place for spring and summer under the Student Exchange and Visitor Program allowed many students to remain connected to their US institutions during this unsettled time. Revoking those exemptions now will end the possibility of US study for international students, affecting both their futures and the futures of the institutions that have depended on and benefited from their contributions. These new restrictions will affect the futures of international students and will as profoundly affect the futures of the colleges and universities that depend on and benefit from their contributions. The increased financial burdens on US universities will be significant.

Please reinstate the temporary visa exemptions for international students and faculty members while we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including at least the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. The U.S. system of higher education has long attracted students from all over the world, and for good reason. Please do not refuse access to our colleges and universities for the estimated one million international students who would be affected by this change in policy.

Thank you.


African Studies Association

American Academy of Religion

American Anthropological Association 

American Comparative Literature Association Executive Committee

American Folklore Society

American Historical Association

American Musicological Society

American Political Science Association

American Schools of Oriental Research

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

American Society for Environmental History

American Sociological Association 

American Studies Association

Archaeological Institute of America

Association for Asian Studies

Association for Jewish Studies Executive Committee

Association for Research on Nonprofit Associations and Voluntary Action

Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Bibliographical Society of America

Latin American Studies Association 

Medieval Academy of America

Middle East Studies Association

Modern Language Association

National Communication Association 

National Council of Teachers of English

National Council on Public History

North American Conference on British Studies

Organization of American Historians

Phi Beta Kappa Society

Shakespeare Association of America

Sixteenth Century Society and Conference

Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study

Society for Ethnomusicology

Society for Biblical Literature 

Society for Classical Studies

Society for Music Theory

Society of Architectural Historians

World History Association

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