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U.S. Government Drops New International Student Visa Rules

Student visa-holders not limited in course options

Abele quad walkway at sundown

Duke officials applauded an announcement Tuesday that the U.S government will drop proposed changes to visa policies that would have affected many international students at U.S. universities.

Following the announcement, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Frances sent a message to all international students at Duke expressing their support.

“We know this situation has caused a great deal of uncertainty and stress for you and your families. We want to restate our continued commitment to international students and your ability to pursue your studies and research at Duke,” Kornbluth and Francis wrote.

In a statement Duke President Vincent E. Price welcomed the decision.

“I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has reversed an exclusionary visa policy that would have harmed international students and their families,” Price said. “Our university and our nation are strengthened when we welcome diverse voices and perspectives from around the world, and we will continue to strongly advocate for policies that open doors for connection rather than close them.”

The announcement preceded a planned a U.S. District Court hearing over a lawsuit supported by Duke that sought to block the administration's new restrictive visa rules. The policy, if implemented, would have required F-1 visa holders to enroll in at least one in-person or hybrid course this fall or to leave the United States to take their courses remotely.

Tuesday’s decision reinstates visa rules issued March 9 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed international students to remain in the United States regardless of whether their classes were in-person or online.

The lawsuit was filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging the rules. Duke joined 58 other colleges and universities in signing an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit.  They were joined by business and faith leaders, and 17 states which also filed suit to halt the changes.

In addition, Kornbluth and Francis particularly cited the work of the “large number of Duke students who mobilized to oppose the directives, as well as the national business community, faith leaders and the 17 states which filed suit to block the rules for joining in solidarity with international students and higher education.”

Any international students who continue to have visa questions are encouraged to reach out to Duke Visa Services. Duke’s International House also provides a range of support services for international students.

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