Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Announced Modifications

July 10, 2020

Dear Ohio Federal Delegation Member:

Thank you for your support of Kent State University during the current COVID-19 pandemic. With the resources from the CARES Act we successfully transitioned our Spring 2020 classes to remote instruction and are planning and implementing a return to in-person instruction for the Fall 2020 semester.

I write to you today with grave concerns regarding the July 6, 2020, announced guidance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that modifies Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) temporary exemptions for non-immigrant students taking online classes in Fall 2020 due to the pandemic.

I respectfully request that you contact the Department of Homeland Security and ask that they reconsider these new restrictions and urge them to return to the existing flexibilities granted to colleges and universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kent State will resume in-person instruction in the Fall 2020 and will operate under a hybrid instruction model that keeps the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff as a top priority. The result of this new ICE guidance, however, could devastate international enrollment at Kent State and has already caused significant consternation within the university’s international student body as they consider difficult personal, health and educational decisions.  

The new ICE guidance ignores the health and safety requirements related to physical distancing which necessitated reduced classroom capacity and the transition to remote instruction; it will punish students whose home countries have instituted travel restrictions and border closures, putting these students ‘out of status’; and it does not contemplate the impacts of a possible mid-semester transition to complete remote instruction due to a second wave of COVID-19 infection.

Kent State is an international education destination, as demonstrated by our most recent enrollment numbers:

  • 1,409 international students
  • 99 countries represented in our student body
  • 12 international Fulbright Scholars funded by the U.S Department of State
  • 4% international student population

Our entire university staff is working diligently to return to the classroom in the fall and to provide in-person instruction in a manner that best ensures the health and safety of the Kent State University community, including our international students. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must reinstitute the flexibility provided at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic until the current situation subsides.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter and request to contact the Department of Homeland Security. Please feel free to contact me directly, or Nick Gattozzi, Kent State’s Executive Director of Government and Community Relations, with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Todd Diacon
President

POSTED: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 5:21pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 5:42pm