Published: July 14, 2020

Editor's note: The original version of this article was updated on July 14 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement rescinded its July 6 directive.

Late Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement rescinded its decision to require international students to transfer or leave the country if their colleges or universities held classes entirely online because of the pandemic.

“We are pleased the ICE directive has been withdrawn, and our international students can continue their studies without disruption,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “Everyone of our students, including the thousands of students who come to our campus from other parts of the world can continue to count on our support during this challenging time.”

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy expressed relief at the news.

"We are happy with today’s announcement reversing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ruling that may have negatively impacted our international students. It will ensure that international students at the University of Colorado will be able to continue their educational journeys. We were also pleased to work with our national partner organizations on the effort and coordinate efforts among our colleague institutions in Colorado. This is important to our state and to higher education.”

Kennedy and the chancellors of the four campuses issued a statement earlier in the day supporting international students. The president and the chancellors called upon the Department of Homeland Security to allow international students taking fully online classes this fall to remain in the United States.

The university’s statement is as follows:

The University of Colorado is joining our national higher education associations (through the American Council on Education), as well as Colorado colleges and universities and peers nationally, to request the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw the July 6 Immigration and Customs Enforcement directive regarding international students. The university is also reviewing opportunities to join amicus briefs.

International students are critical and valued members of the University of Colorado community, and the concern and confusion the ruling has caused – particularly amid the uncertainty of the pandemic – hurts our international students and our communities. We are carefully and deliberately planning a safe reopening of our campuses in the fall, and ask that international students with a valid visa be allowed to continue their educational journeys.

The American Council on Education (ACE); Association of American Universities (AAU)Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) have issued statements and letters that CU Boulder also supports.

The university system and campus leaders had been coordinating to determine how the University of Colorado System can best respond to the ICE decision announced last week. President Kennedy and the chancellors also joined higher education leaders across Colorado asking Colorado’s congressional delegation to ensure that any international student with a valid visa is able to continue their education no matter whether their instruction is online, in person, or through a combination of both.

“All of CU’s campuses fully support our international students, and we are joining our colleagues across the state and across the nation to advocate for their ability to continue their studies. When the CU system works together and speaks with a united voice, we maximize our impact,” said DiStefano. “We thank our international students for their patience as we coordinated our efforts both across our campuses and with other stakeholders across Colorado.”

Also this week, the State of Colorado through Attorney General Phil Weiser joined seventeen states in commencing a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the Department of Homeland Security from implementing the recent directives affecting international students. The lawsuit claims that the directives were not properly enacted and will cause irreparable harm to international students who might be unable to continue their studies at the educational institutions of their choice.

CU Boulder’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and CU International planned an online forum for students to ask questions on Thursday, July 16, but given the latest ICE decision decided to cancel the forum. International students can visit the ISSS website for informational updates.