Carnegie Mellon University

July 7, 2020

Dear CMU Students, Faculty and Staff:

For more than a century, Carnegie Mellon has been an international university, and our community has been defined by the best and brightest students and faculty from around the globe. We find the measure issued yesterday by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for F-1 schools and students unacceptably abrupt, inflexible, and completely disregarding of the difficulties it causes our students from abroad. It is also oblivious to the challenges it creates for higher education institutions across the country who are already struggling to manage through the fluid conditions of the pandemic. We are committed to and will advocate for our international community members, all of whom add to our intellectual landscape and vibrant community.

If enacted as currently written the new federal guidelines put our international students in a position where they may have to make difficult and undesirable decisions. The announcement undermines our ability to attract and retain our remarkable students. We are currently reviewing the guidelines to discern the impact on our students and will work closely with other colleges and universities around the country, including our partners at both the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities, to seek adjustments to, and take prompt corrective action in response to these SEVP guidelines.

The well-being of our university community has been our highest priority as we begin to re-open campus and prepare for the coming semester. Our protocols for the return to campus will continue to be driven by science- and research-based evidence, recognizing that our knowledge of the virus continues to evolve. The university is confident that our thoughtful hybrid model approach to beginning classes on August 31 will allow us to most effectively support our international students under these new guidelines.

For those who are on F-1 visas and are directly impacted, you can find more information from our Office of International Education, which is also reaching out to students soon. I encourage you to contact the office directly if you need additional support. International students form a critical foundation of our academic and research excellence. We will do all we can to ensure that they are able to continue their educational endeavors at CMU without the fear of being forced to leave the country.


Jim Garrett, Provost