This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it would discontinue visa exceptions for international students on F-1 visas who take all of their courses for the semester online. This decision could force hundreds of thousands of international students to leave the United States and threatens to interrupt the academic work of more than 3,000 students here at George Mason University.
International students contribute greatly to the cultural and intellectual fabric of George Mason University, benefiting everyone in our community. Our best-in-state diversity ranking is in no small part dependent on the students from more than 130 countries who choose Mason for its academic and inclusive excellence. We are proud to say that you can meet the world on our campus. We have an obligation to stand with our international students and make our voice heard on this unfortunate decision.
Universities will be joining together to explore options for how we can protect this vulnerable population. Our Association of Public and Land Grant Universities shares these concerns, as you can see in this public statement. I, too, urge the administration to reconsider this executive action.
Here at Mason, and across Virginia, conversations are underway as we work to fully understand the new guidance and its impact on our operations and our students. We are committed to finding creative solutions so that our students are able to continue their study in the U.S.
Our Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) is putting together more information, which will be forthcoming later this week. Faculty and administrators in the schools and colleges can expect to learn more from their deans; international students will receive information from OIPS, including guidance and announcements about FAQ’s and online discussions.
Despite unprecedented challenges we currently face, we will not waver in our support for our international community.
President, George Mason University
July 07, 2020