Dean Carpenter offers support to international students

Friday, July 10, 2020

Megan Carpenter

Dear students, staff, and faculty,

As some of you may be aware, ICE has this week announced modifications to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students in the Student Exchange Visitor Program who are taking online classes.  One is that that “students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”  This rule modification also applies if a school moves to remote operations during the semester: “If a school changes its operational stance mid-semester, and as a result a nonimmigrant student switches to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load, schools are reminded that nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If nonimmigrant students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as transfer to a school with in-person instruction.” For schools operating with a face-to-face hybrid model, as we are planning here at UNH Law, the new policy also prevents students from taking an all-online courseload.  There was no advance notice of the 07/06/2020 directive, and SEVP certified schools learned of it at the same time as the general public.

This policy is unfair and hurtful to our international students who are living in the United States and want to remain here during law school.  Our law school has a long and vibrant history of welcoming international students, and we must do everything we can to protect their interests.  All current students at UNH Law who may be impacted by this policy were contacted directly yesterday by Christine Rousseau, Immigration Advisor for the Law School, with the Office of International Students and Scholars.  OISS is working on this issue. Christine has contacted the NAFSA (Association of Foreign Student Advisors) State Representative regarding collaboration on a letter to the NH Senators. She is also working in coordination with Susan Ellison (Director, Office of Visa and Immigration Services at Dartmouth).  I have joined with a group of other law school deans to address these issues, as well.  Among our group there is a desire to have the law schools take a collective position pressuring for a change in this rule.  Lawsuits have been filed by both Harvard and MIT to challenge the directive.  

I will continue to update you as we have additional information.  

To our international students specifically: I am sorry.  Our law school is better because you are a part of it.  We will do everything we can to help, including working on creative solutions and advocacy— nationally, within our university, and inside the law school.  

Take care,

Dean Carpenter
Dean and Professor of Law

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