Contingency Plan Underway for Our International Students

July 9, 2020

Dr. David Rowe, Lancaster Theological Seminary Interim President, released the following statement July 9, 2020:

The announcement made this week by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) requiring international students with F-1 and M-1 visas to take in-person or hybrid classes in order to remain in the U.S. has caused deep concern and anxiety for our students, faculty, and staff.

The order requires international students who attend online-only classes to either leave the country voluntarily, transfer to another school offering in-person or hybrid classes, or face deportation.

Last month, after community surveys and extensive deliberation, the Seminary reached the decision to conduct fall classes online. As part of that decision-making process, the faculty and administration developed a contingency plan in the event that ICE were to make a decision such as the one announced this week. Dean Vanessa Lovelace is now working with the faculty to implement that contingency plan, which we believe will allow our international students to meet the requirements to remain in the US.

While we seek approval of our plan, we join with higher education colleagues across the country to call upon ICE to reverse its decision. Not only is it unfair to the many international students studying in the United States legally, it places an unnecessary, undue and untimely burden on institutions already straining to resume instruction next month safely and responsibly.

On Wednesday, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institution of Technology sued ICE seeking to overturn the order to deport foreign students taking online-only classes. State and national education associations are also initiating efforts to reverse the order. Please consider sharing your position on this matter with your member of Congress and U.S. senators. In the meantime, keep our international students and their families in your prayers.