Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a preliminary announcement about online study eligibility for international students for the fall 2020 semester. The University of Michigan has issued a statement expressing our strong disagreement with this temporary policy, as has the College of Engineering. We fully support the university in its attempts to advocate for alteration or repeal of this policy at the federal level.
While there is still much uncertainty regarding the announcement, we are writing to assure you that Michigan Engineering and other units throughout the university are focused on understanding the potential impact of this new guidance on our students in order to best support you and your educational goals. Additionally, we recognize that this preliminary policy was announced after the University and College indicated students could choose whether to enroll remotely during the Fall 2020 term as part of its Campus Maize and Blueprint, and therefore may impact this possibility for some of our international students.
At this time, updates related to the University’s understanding of this policy can be found via the International Center. Their initial assessment concludes that:
- Many current Michigan Engineering international students will be able to maintain their F-1 status because of our recent decision to use in-person, remote, and hybrid classes during the Fall 2020 term. The announced policy allows for a mixture of online/remote and in-person courses for international students studying on the Ann Arbor campus.
- Students outside the country who are not in F-1 status should be able to take U-M classes online.
- The new guidance does not directly impact those on full-time, post-completion OPT.
- International students must depart the U.S. (or transfer schools) if their enrolling institution changes its operational stance mid-semester and transitions to online instruction only. We believe that this would apply to the University of Michigan only if we transition to online only instruction at some point prior to November 30th, the date when remote instruction is scheduled to begin for everyone. The only scenario in which we would make such a switch is if we have severe COVID occurrence in our community and it is deemed absolutely necessary.
Michigan Engineering is working closely with the Registrar’s office to code courses and sections, which will allow students to determine whether or not a particular course is considered to be in-person, mixed (hybrid) or online. The current plan is to allow students to adjust course schedules in early- to -mid-August, taking this new model and immigration requirements into account.
We understand that this preliminary policy announcement has created much concern and confusion among our international student population during an already stressful time. It is important to emphasize that the policies in this preliminary announcement may evolve over time. For this reason, we strongly encourage our students to refrain from making any changes to current plans for the Fall 2020 term. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We will continue to provide updates and guidance as we begin to fully understand the ramifications of any final policy that is put into place.
Additionally, please note that the International Center will be offering a virtual chat featuring immigration advisers on Monday, July 13th. Please check for an announcement and registration on their website later this week.
Please know that we highly value the contributions that international students make to our Michigan Engineering community. Our mission to serve the common good cannot be achieved without you. We will continue to work hard to ensure you can achieve your educational and professional goals with us.
Mary-Ann Mycek, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Graduate & Professional Education
Joanna Mirecki Millunchick, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Office of Student Affairs