July 9, 2020

Dear Members of the SIPA Community,

I write to share with you that Columbia University is filing a legal brief in support of the lawsuit initiated yesterday by Harvard and MIT against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's recent directives regarding international students and online learning.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking to deny visas to international students if the only courses they take this fall are entirely online.  Harvard, MIT, Columbia, and many other universities are now challenging these misguided directives in court. 

As indicated in the announcement below, Columbia's legal brief will focus on the enormous and incalculable contributions that our international students make to our university community.  Nowhere is this more true than at SIPA, where every year about 60 percent of our students are international.  We all benefit tremendously from our truly global community at SIPA, and speaking on behalf of the School, we unequivocally support our international students and the University's participation in this important litigation.

I circulated a message yesterday in which I shared that we are seeking guidance how best to adapt to these evolving circumstance and to provide a path forward for our international students.  More information will be shared as soon as possible so that our incoming and continuing international students have as much information as possible in order to plan for the upcoming academic year.  We appreciate your patience given this rapidly evolving situation.  In the meantime, students are encouraged to reach out to Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office with any immigration or visa-related questions they have [https://isso.columbia.edu/content/contact].

We stand with and support SIPA's international students, and look forward to welcoming you all in the Fall.

Sincerely yours,

Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs




Columbia to Participate in Litigation Against ICE Restrictions on International Students

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Columbia, together with other leading colleges and universities, is currently at work on a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed in the legal challenge to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s newest federal rules, which pose significant limitations on international students.

As President Bollinger said in his message to the community, these regulations, which deny visas to international students whose courses are all online, are severely disruptive to the lives and well-being of our international students and damaging to our University.

Columbia’s brief will focus on the important and essential contributions that international students make to our intellectual and social life as a University community, and on the ways in which these new restrictions undermine the exchange of ideas that is the cornerstone of American higher education.

The deadline for filing the brief has not yet been set.  We will update this message when more information is available. 

President Bollinger’s message also addressed what Columbia will do now, as this litigation is ongoing:

First, as the University and each of our deans continue to make decisions about the structure of course offerings for the coming academic year, we must endeavor to configure hybrid classes providing in-person and remote learning options that alleviate the negative effect of these new regulations on Columbia students; we want our international students to be able to complete their studies here, if at all possible. Second, for the large community of international students who cannot come to Columbia because of the pandemic, we will be adapting our network of Columbia Global Centers and creating Pop-Up Global Centers in new locations to provide in-person academic and peer engagement. And, third, as I stated last week, we must continue to vigorously oppose immigration policies that damage Columbia, higher education, the national interest, and the international students, researchers, and faculty who immeasurably enrich our institution and the intellectual and personal experiences of each of us.

International students can be in touch with the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) for more information. Please also make use of the resources on University Life’s website whenever you need them, and counseling services, which continue to be available throughout the summer, on the Morningside and Medical Center campuses.