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Price criticizes new ICE rules threatening visa status for international students taking online classes

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The day after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposed restrictions on visas for international students taking all online classes, President Vincent Price issued a statement criticizing the new rules and promising to support international students at Duke.

“This is a misguided effort that will only harm talented young people and the colleges and universities that are vital to our society,” Price wrote.

Under a new rule announced July 6, international students studying under F-1 visas—which allow students to take academic courses in the United States—will not be able to return to or remain in the United States if only taking online classes. The federal government will not issue the visas to students who do not take in-person classes, according to a news release from ICE, which oversees the program. 

“In this uncertain moment, we are committed to providing our international students the opportunity to begin and complete their education at Duke—because we believe that it aligns with our mission to train leaders for the global community, because we recognize the vitality that a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds brings to our campus, and because we seek to foster a welcoming community of learners that reflects the shared challenges and aspirations our increasingly connected world,” Price wrote. 

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, told The Chronicle Tuesday that Duke has “mobilized our internal teams, our legal and international teams and our academic units to ensure that we can create opportunities for students, and we’ve also expressed our concerns to our members of Congress.”

“We have been in constant communication with outside counsel for immigration and visa issues, with our national associations who are analyzing this,” Schoenfeld said. 

According to Schoenfeld, Duke—and other schools—learned about the new policy via the ICE news release, and remains in the dark about specifics of the policy. He said that no guidance has been issued to universities beyond the initial statement, which makes the impacts unclear—but Duke is already taking steps to express its concerns. 

Given that Duke will offer in-person, hybrid and online classes for the Fall semester, Schoenfeld said the University will seek to be certified as a hybrid institution, with students having the opportunity to take in-person and online classes during the semester. The rules state that F-1 students at hybrid schools must not take their entire course loads online. 

Beyond that plan, Duke is still seeking more information about the policy.

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