Advocating for International Education
UC Berkeley has a rich tradition of international engagement with institutions and researchers from all over the world who are committed to the advancement of research, scholarship, and service. We are of the firm belief that the international student and scholar community are vital to the intellectual life of the university and to our teaching and research mission. We remain committed to protecting these interests. This is a time when we are experiencing unprecedented events both within the U.S. and globally. It is therefore incumbent upon us to advocate for sound legislation and policies that are more welcoming and reflect our values.
The University of California system and UC Berkeley continue to monitor and advocate for sound legislation around immigration matters. Following is an update of what efforts are being made to address specific issues. When situations arise where you can assist, we will provide links for you to follow to join our advocacy efforts. For updates regarding the most recent U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories, please see BIO's Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.
Legislation and Policy Resources
COVID-19 related resources from NAFSA: Association of International Educators:
ICE Guidance for Fall 2020
On July 6th, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance to universities indicating that it would issue a regulation in the coming weeks that could potentially force many international students to return to their home countries if they are taking entirely online classes for the Fall 2020 semester.
7/15/20 UPDATE: On Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to rescind in its entirety the July 6th guidance and July 7th FAQ pertaining to Fall 2020 instruction for F-1 students. Based on a July 15th SEVP Update, universities will revert to the DHS guidance provided for Spring and Summer 2020, which is now extended into the fall semester.
Please read our new, updated July 15th Updated BIO Guidance related to Fall 2020 Instruction email for detailed information, and note that this information is subject to change. Please watch for more emails from BIO and updates to our COVID-19 FAQ page.
- 7/22/20 - Letter from American Council of Educators (ACE) seeking clarity regarding the status of incoming international students
- UC statement on Department of Homeland Security reversal of international student visa order
- Message from Chancellor Christ
- UC poised to sue federal government over new visa policy for international students
- Litigation on SEVP Fall 2020 COVID-19 Guidance (Master list from NAFSA)
Letters from legislatives:
- 7/10/2020 - Letter from the Offices of Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris
- 7/09/2020 - Letter from the Office of U.S. Representative Dingell
- 7/09/2020 - Letter from the Office of Congressman Panetta
- 7/09/2020 - Letter from the Office of Senator Warren
- 7/08/2020 - Letter from the Office of Senator Collins
Fall 2020 ICE Guidance:
- Urge Congress to Support International Students & Scholars and Protect OPT
- OPT Talking Points (Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities)
- Share your experience as an international student with NAFSA's Connecting our World. NAFSA uses your stories to better advocate for international students and scholars.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
The administration continues to target Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows international students to work for 12 months, usually after graduation, and 24 additional months in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. A summary of a rule proposal on the agenda states: “ICE [Immigration and Custom Enforcement] will amend existing regulations and revise the practical training options available to nonimmigrant students on F and M visas.” Below are some recent advocacy efforts:
- 6/12/2020 - Letter from California Chamber of Commerce
- 6/02/2020 - Letter from Republican Members of Congress Supporting OPT Program
- 6/01/2020 - National Graduate Student Organization Calls on the White House to Support OPT & H-1B to Strengthen Academia and the Economy
- 5/26/2020 - Letter from U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- 5/19/2020 - Joint UCSA-UCGPC Letter in Support of Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program
- 5/18/2020 - Letter from 10 University of California Chancellors to Departments of Homeland Security and State