Reversal does not apply to new students requiring F-1 sponsorship, says Harvard.
Just a week after scoring a “significant victory” over Trump administration’s bid to bar foreign students taking online-only classes, Harvard University has some bad news for new students coming to the US this fall.
“International freshmen will not be able to come to campus this fall due to federal visa restrictions,” Harvard’s Indian-American Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote to undergraduates Tuesday.
This was so because the reversal of Trump administration’s July 6 directive prohibiting foreign students taking online-only classes from remaining in the US “does not apply to newly admitted international students requiring F-1 sponsorship.”
Any incoming Harvard student who received a Form I-20 to begin their studies this fall will be unable to enter the US in F-1 status because all undergraduate fall courses will be fully remote, Khurana wrote as cited by the Harvard Crimson, student newspaper.
“We abhor any policies that seek to force us to choose between our community’s health and the education of our international students,” he wrote.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts based University is collaborating with members of the state’s congressional delegation to advocate for extending the online exemption to incoming freshmen and to guarantee flexibility for the duration of the pandemic, he added.
“Unfortunately, we don’t anticipate any change to the policy in time for the fall semester,” Khurana wrote.
Other US colleges too are bracing for the possibility that their students won’t make it to campus because of travel bans, NPR reported.
Enrollment for new international students is projected to decline 63% to 98% from last year, it said citing a recent analysis.
More than one million foreign students are currently in the US with China at the top with 350,000 followed by India with 200,000 students.
International students studying in the US contributed $41 billion during the 2018-2019 academic year, according to an economic analysis by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Harvard had also explored the option of offering courses in-person or through a hybrid model that incorporates some in-person instruction, the Crimson said.
But it “concluded that given the unpredictability of current government policies and the uncertainty of the covid-19 crisis, this path could jeopardize both our international students’ ability to enter or leave the United States in the future and our community’s health,” Khurana wrote in his email.
Khurana explained that the College is protecting international freshmen from a scenario in which they would travel to the US, only to be asked to return home.
Such a scenario would prove doubly disastrous if border closures prevented them from fulfilling that federal demand, leaving them trapped between countries.
Khurana wrote Tuesday that incoming international students may opt to start their College experience remotely from home, or instead defer their enrollment up until July 31.
He also noted that international students who choose to defer will be guaranteed housing upon their arrival on campus, a promise College administrators have repeatedly said they cannot make to students who take leaves of absence.
Khurana added that the Office of International Education will reach out to individual students to examine their options.
Earlier, in an email last week to undergraduates living outside the US, Harvard said it will allow returning international students to transfer credits from an accredited university in their home country to Harvard this fall, the Crimson reported.
This was intended to help students considering the prospect of enrolling in institutions closer to home for the fall, citing the appeal of synced time zones, in-person classes, and faculty interaction, director of the Office of International Education Camila L. Nardozzi wrote
However, those considering the study away option must first complete their local university’s application process and discuss courses they would like to apply toward their concentration with their department’s director of Undergraduate Studies or head tutor.
Undergraduates may only enroll in courses that Harvard considers in line with a “liberal arts and sciences curriculum.”
Harvard will not count pre-professional courses in law, medicine, journalism or other communications, business, and most food and agriculture related fields for credit.
Students must submit to the Office of International Education by August 1 for Administrative Board approval.
College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an email that while most institutional application deadlines for the fall term have long passed, Harvard is working with partner universities and other institutions to advocate on students’ behalf.