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July 13, 2020

There are many rumors regarding the much anticipated resumption of routine visa processing at US consular offices around the world.  We anticipate that some consular offices may start reopening this summer depending on the local conditions. Please monitor the embassy/consulate website for the status of their services, as well as the HIO website for updates. If you are currently located in the US, we still do not advise that you travel abroad at this time, especially if you are in need of a renewed visa, as we anticipate there will be backlogs and delays in appointments once consular offices do reopen.

Keep in mind that travel bans still exist from many countries, and do impact students and scholars with valid visas traveling from or transiting through one of the affected countries. For more information on the current travel bans, please see the CDC website.

July 8, 2020

Starting Wednesday, July 8, an HIO Advisor-on-Call will be available via Zoom Monday – Friday from 9:00 -10:00am and 4:00 - 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time. This service is offered via Zoom on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is intended for international students and scholars with quick questions.  For details on accessing the Advisor-on-Call waiting room during these times, please click here.

If you would like to set up a regular 30-minute appointment to speak with the HIO Advisor for your School or Department, you may make an appointment online or contact your HIO Advisor directly.

July 8, 2020

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

On Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students will not be allowed to stay in the country if they attend institutions, like Harvard, that are holding courses online this fall. Their choices are either to transfer to another institution that provides in-person or hybrid (both in-person and online) instruction—or to depart the country and risk not being able to return. Those students who fail to comply with this guidance may face deportation.

The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others. This comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections, with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1. Moreover, if an institution pursues in-person or hybrid instruction this fall and a serious outbreak of COVID-19 occurs, the institution would face strong pressure not to switch to online instruction, as Harvard and others necessarily did this past March, because to do so would immediately place its international students in jeopardy.

In making plans for the fall, Harvard, like many other institutions, has sought to balance addressing concerns for public health with preserving our academic mission of teaching and scholarship, and we have undertaken careful planning to address the unique circumstances of our community and to enable students to make educational progress safely. We have done so recognizing that the nation is in the grip of a pandemic that poses risks to the health of millions and that threatens to overwhelm our capacity to manage it. We believe that the ICE order is bad public policy, and we believe that it is illegal.

Within the last hour, we filed pleadings together with MIT in the US District Court in Boston seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the order. We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students—and international students at institutions across the country—can continue their studies without the threat of deportation.

For many of our international students, studying in the United States and studying at Harvard is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. These students are our students, and they enrich the learning environment for all. We fervently hope that, before long, the circumstances that necessitate online learning will pass. As a university with a profound commitment to residential education, we hope and intend to resume full in-person instruction as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so. But, until that time comes, we will not stand by to see our international students’ dreams extinguished by a deeply misguided order. We owe it to them to stand up and to fight—and we will.

Sincerely,
Larry

UPDATE: You may follow updates on the lawsuit here

Personal Stories

Remain true to who you are. Don't feel like you have to suddenly become "American" now that you're here. Be proud of your cultural and national identity! There's always so much to share and learn.

Woojin Lim - Canada - Harvard College

I have found it easier and quicker to learn about anything, whether academic or nonacademic, by asking the people around me about it rather than looking up the information online or in books. Therefore my advice to new international students would be to really utilize people around them as resources.

Billy Koech - Kenya - Harvard College

Represented at Harvard this year

International population over time

International population this year