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AAMC, Health Coalition, and Education Organizations Support Students on F-1 Visas

July 10, 2020

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CONTACTS
Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

The AAMC joined members of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions on a July 10 letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf opposing new guidance released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that prohibits international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if the institutions they attend adopt online-only instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health professions coalition stresses, “Although schools are working on reopening to serve their students and advance their research programs, campus and community safety is their top priority. Collaboration is paramount during these unprecedented times. ICE should allow students with valid visas the opportunity to continue receiving their education in the manner determined by their school to be the safest and most effective for them and their classmates.”

The letter continues, “There are approximately one million international students attending schools and universities in the United States, which include students receiving their health professions education. These students are not only highly talented but also contribute to America’s public health by incorporating models of inclusion into health professions education, thereby benefiting all students and the treatment of patients, and providing a more culturally competent health workforce to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.”

The ICE guidance comes on the heels of significant delays in F-1 visa processing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAMC joined higher education organizations on a July 2 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary Wolf regarding the backlog of F-1 visas and lack of guidance regarding international students.

The community letter requests that the Department of Homeland Security extend and expand prior guidance to continue providing regulatory flexibility for international students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the upcoming 2020-21 academic year and participating in coursework through various alternatives either inside or outside the United States. As U.S. consulates across the world remain closed due to COVID-19, the letter also reiterates a request for the Department of State to waive the in-person interview requirement for new student visa applications with no apparent or potential ineligibility.

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