NACAC Opposes ICE Move to Limit International Students at US Universities

Lindsay Addington

Arlington, VA (July 7, 2020) — The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) expressed its strong opposition this week’s announcement by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 international students must return to their home country or face deportation if their educational institution offers only online classes during the fall semester. ICE similarly announced that international students not already in the US would not receive student visas if their institution plans to provide online-only instruction this fall. The policy applies to students enrolled at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions.

NACAC believes that this announcement is a continuation of policies that suggest a hostility toward international visitors and immigrants and risks further damaging the economic and cultural well-being of our nation’s schools and colleges. At a time when institutions will struggle to enroll students of all backgrounds, the nation should pursue policies that reduce barriers to entry at our nation’s schools and promote academic exchanges between countries. Historically, the US has the reputation for having the best universities in the world and has traditionally welcomed students from around the globe. We risk damaging our reputation for providing the highest quality education and for being a welcoming, generous nation—and these excellent international students certainly will go elsewhere.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, schools and universities have struggled with how and when to resume classes and other campus-based activities in a safe manner. Many have decided that online instruction is the best way to keep students, teachers, administrators, and others safe. ICE’s decision to send students home exacerbates an already difficult situation as colleges face significant enrollment declines, including among international students. For those that have not confirmed in-person classes this fall, the ICE announcement may force institutions to make the difficult decision to reopen when that course of action might not be in the best interest of public health.


The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of nearly 14,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

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