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Information on ICE/SEVP COVID-19 Rule for International Students

Greetings International Students – 

We have heard from many of you wanting additional clarification about the recent ICE/SEVP COVID-19 Rule limiting online-only study in the U.S.

Here’s what we know at this point:

  1. We know the rule is stressing our students out! We have received so many worried emails and appointments from students and are responding to you individually as quickly as we are able. We too are disheartened and angry about the rule and are taking legal steps to advocate for change. 
  2. Most Emerson programs will be ok. While the new rule prohibits students from enrolling in online-only study from within the U.S. it appears most Emerson students will be supported under the rule, including One Emerson Flex Learning hybrid-study in the US, online only study from abroad, and in-person study at one of our global partners. 

We are most concerned about our seniors abroad who are trying to finish their last semester and plan to apply for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), as well as certain graduate and undergraduate students who may have planned to study online only from within the US. We are actively creating solutions for students in these groups and will follow up as more information becomes available.

  1. The actual rule has not yet been published. While there has been a national (and, yes, international) reaction to the proposed rule, the Interim Final Rule that SEVP announced has not yet been published to the Federal Register to become regulation. What has been published is an SEVP broadcast message, a web summary of the rule, and an FAQ. We will have more clarification on some points once the rule is actually published. 
  2. This rule is not the only worry international students are facing. We know that this ICE rule comes on top of several other obstacles to a return to campus, including the fact that U.S. consulates remain closed, and that travel bans are still in place for students coming to the U.S. from China, Iran, Europe, UK, Ireland, and Brazil. For those of you who want to be back on campus this fall, these U.S. policies are severely limiting your options.
  3. Emerson is fighting back! Although most of our programs will be ok, we strongly disagree with the spirit of the rule and are taking action. Emerson College is supporting an amicus brief to be filed by The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. President Pelton is a founding member of the Alliance. community. 

What we don’t yet know: 

  1. We don’t know whether all students will need new I-20s. While the rule indicates that colleges will need to reissue I-20s for all hybrid-study students by August 4, we are waiting for clarification as to whether this requirement will be upheld. For now, please make sure you are completing your INTENT FORM by July 12 so that we can message out additional information to those students who plan to be in the US for study. 
  2. We don’t know all the details yet. We don’t yet have all the answers to your questions about how OPT might be affected for students who study out of the U.S. or whether students out of the US for more than five months can return with a reactivated I-20. We will communicate more information once this is clear. 

Have more questions? We’ll be holding Zoom meet-ups to continue addressing questions as answers become available. Please register to join: 

Sunday, July 12, 3:00 pm ET 
Monday, July 13, 8:00 am ET
Tuesday, July 14, 9:00 am ET 

For those cases that will require individualized attention, please make an appointment with our OISA advisor at the link below. 

Andrea Popa | Director (Graduate students, ELA, GBFA)

617-824-3598 |


Jason Yang | International Student Advisor (Undergraduate students)

617-824-3453 |


Please also see Message to Emerson International Student Community regarding ICE Restriction to Online-Only Study in U.S.

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