Dear Students and Colleagues,

I am writing to express my strong and unequivocal support for international students at Drexel University and to assure the University community that we will work closely with every international student to protect their Drexel education. This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued temporary procedural guidance applying to international students on F-1 visas for the fall 2020 semester, which is a significant and, I believe, ill-advised step backward from the temporary exemption instituted in March 2020 for the spring and summer terms. The modified guidance requires international students participating in academic programs that are delivered exclusively online this fall to either depart the U.S. or take other actions, such as transferring to an institution offering in-person instruction, to remain in lawful immigration status – not a viable option for most students given the current circumstances at other institutions and in their home countries.

This unwelcome, unnecessary and punitive guidance is unfair to both our international students and scholars during a time of global pandemic, and the institutions that are enriched by their presence on our campuses. As you know, Drexel has adopted a hybrid/HyFlex model for the fall, combining face-to-face and remote instruction, assuming state and local authorities allow us to offer in-person instruction during the fall term. The Provost's Office and deans will work closely to review the course plans for the fall and ensure that there are as many in-person options as possible to accommodate the needs of every international student while responsibly adhering to health and safety protocols.

The Office of International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS) is actively communicating with all international students potentially affected by this federal guidance to provide information and support. We are also consulting with legal resources as we monitor this situation, which continues to evolve as more clarifications are issued. We are committed to ensuring that all of Drexel's international students are supported and remain in compliance so they can continue to live and learn with their classmates.

Meanwhile, we have joined national efforts to oppose this guidance. On Wednesday, Harvard University and MIT jointly filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Massachusetts against the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seeking both a temporary and permanent injunction. Drexel supports these efforts and has signed on to an amicus brief on this issue with many other members of the higher education community. We are vocal and adamant in our opposition.

ISSS will provide updates as more information becomes available, and in the meantime, international students with any questions or concerns should contact ISSS at This situation is evolving, and we are doing our best to respond in a timely manner.

I want to make it clear that Drexel prides itself on engaging in global partnerships and welcoming international students and scholars from around the world. We believe these global connections enrich and enhance our learning, research and innovation community. We will continue to do everything we can to support our international students, faculty and professional staff. They are valued and vital members of the Drexel community, and they have our strongest backing.


John Fry

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