Campus leaders respond to new SEVP policies affecting educational access for nonimmigrant international students

The following message was shared with students, faculty and staff on Friday, July 10, 2020.

Dear Members of the Campus Community:

International students have long been valued members of the SUNY New Paltz campus community. Students from many countries around the world contribute perennially as well as daily to the academic excellence, global engagement and cultural enrichment of our community. We are committed to sustaining the strongest support possible for our international students.

It is in that spirit that we write about a recent announcement by the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that affects educational access for nonimmigrant international students. This is the language in the new policy that is most relevant to students at SUNY New Paltz and other institutions that plan to offer a mixture of online and in-person courses in the fall:

Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.

We are dismayed by this policy and deeply concerned about its impact on our international students. We join colleagues at higher education institutions across the country in vigorously opposing these requirements. The State University of New York is actively working with our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., and with peer institutions and professional associations to change or revoke the SEVP guidance. Some institutions have filed lawsuits against the federal government and we would not be surprised if further legal action is in the works across the country. We stand strongly behind these actions.

Our new and continuing international students – both those who have remained in the United States, and those who will be arriving or returning to the SUNY New Paltz campus for the fall semester – will have opportunities to enroll in face-to-face classes necessary to maintain legal status under the new SEVP guidelines, while also enrolling in online courses.

International students have already received direct communication from the Center for International Programs and should continue to monitor their New Paltz email for additional updates and guidance. International Student Advisors, working remotely and on campus, are available to meet individually with students to address specific questions. International students are encouraged to schedule a virtual appointment by going to the SUNY New Paltz International Student Website or sending an email to

International Student Programs will host a virtual Q&A on Thursday, July 16, at 11 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time, to respond directly to questions and concerns international students have about the fall semester. Use this link to register to attend that event.

We recognize that international students also face a host of unique challenges in pursuing their educations, beyond these new federal regulations. Campus leadership and the SUNY system as a whole are advocating for our international students and working on their behalf as we navigate this continually evolving situation.

To each of our international students, we say directly: you belong here. We stand with you and with all of our international faculty and staff during this stressful time, and hope this information will help guide you as you plan your next steps. We encourage faculty and staff to reach out to international students you may know to express your support for them and their educational endeavors.


Beth Mugler Vargas, Executive Director, Center for International Programs
Barbara Lyman, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Donald Christian, President