NOTE: This message was sent to the campus community shortly before the federal government announced that it was rescinding changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program that would have affected international students studying online.

July 14, 2020

Dear UD Community,

International students are an integral part of the University of Delaware community, and we are proud that they are pursuing their education and research here. As a former international student myself, I understand the incredible opportunities that American higher education offers to aspiring scholars from around the world, and I appreciate the invaluable contributions that our international students make to our society every day.

Recent changes to federal student visa rules, though, would severely diminish this aspect of UD life. Revisions to the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) would rescind the visa status of international students if their courses are delivered entirely online. Such a rigid mandate in the midst of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic is unfair and detrimental not only to the students themselves but the institutions and communities that benefit tremendously from their presence. The University needs the flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to protect the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff. Our international students need assurances that their education will continue through a range of in-person, online and blended educational modalities, even amid changes beyond anyone’s control.

In light of this potential revision to the SEVP, we are exploring possible adjustments to our academic plans for the upcoming academic year to ensure continuity of the UD student experience. Also, the University has joined 59 other academic institutions in an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Johns Hopkins University to oppose changes to the SEVP. In parallel, we are working with Delaware’s Congressional delegation to urge the administration to reconsider the guidance and address the issue on a legislative level. We have added our signature to a joint letter to Congress from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education and more than 80 professional organizations representing higher education institutions. We also support the advocacy work of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, of which UD is a proud member.

Most importantly, we are working directly with those who have come to UD from all over the world to enable and support their education and research here, particularly during these unprecedented times. UD’s Office for International Students and Scholars is reaching out to students to help ensure that their visa status would be preserved if this rule is not reversed. OISS has begun a series of forums and updates with immigration attorneys to help students navigate this developing issue; upcoming events will be listed on the OISS events calendar. OISS has also developed a list of FAQs and other resources for students.

International education is a signature element of the University of Delaware experience, from the thousands of UD students and faculty who travel abroad to the growing number of international students and scholars who are drawn to UD’s excellent academic and research programs. These global connections enrich our entire community and promote an inclusive and collaborative mindset that is essential to our shared growth and success. We are committed to preserving, strengthening and expanding the value of global education at the University of Delaware and throughout our nation.


signature of President Dennis Assanis

Dennis Assanis

University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE 19716   •   USA  •   (302) 831-2111   •