EAE Support for International Students in Response to Recent ICE Rule Change

July 10, 2020

This week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced modifications to exemptions for non-immigrant students enrolled at higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announcement is a departure from the exceptions allowed for the spring and summer 2020 semesters.

We know this has created significant fear and anxiety for many of the international students who study or are about to start studying in EAE. Never forget you are a valued member of the EAE family and know that we are committed to you and your educational success. In response to the announcements made by SEVP this week, EAE has been innovating and iterating (hallmarks of the EAE program) and we are making several changes to our planned teaching for the Fall 2020 semester. These changes will allow students on F-1 visas to enroll in our classes here in Salt Lake City and be in compliance with ICE rules.  As indicated by the University of Utah Office of International Student and Scholar Services, students that meet the criteria discussed below will also meet ICE requirements for study within the US.  For the U’s up-to-date guidance for students with F-1 visas, please look here.

For our continuing students in the MEAE Program’s Cohort 10:
  • Continuing international students have the option of staying here in Salt Lake City or returning to their home countries to take courses remotely for Fall 2020.  EAE’s graduate courses for Fall 2020 will be offered almost entirely through remote delivery, making either local or remote study possible.  EAE strongly supports our international students, and will work with each of you to continue to provide an excellent education wherever you are located this Fall. Students with an F-1 visa that prefer to stay in Salt Lake City are required to enroll in at least one (three credit) in-person or hybrid course to maintain student status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. To address this need, EAE will offer a second section of EAE 6120, Projects II, open specifically for international students and taught as a hybrid class that will meet ICE requirements. This section supports the same learning objectives, processes and experiential learning available to students in the remote section of this course. Students in both sections will work together on teams to define and build their game projects.
  • Continuing students in active F-1 SEVIS status will remain in active status while studying online, even from outside of the U.S. MEAE students will need to remain enrolled full-time (no less than 9 credit hours), which is already supported by the MEAE course of study.
For our incoming students in the MEAE Program’s Cohort 11:
  • Incoming international students have the option of obtaining an F-1 visa and coming to Salt Lake City or remaining in their home countries to take courses remotely for Fall 2020. EAE’s graduate courses for Fall 2020 will be offered almost entirely through remote delivery, making either local or remote study possible.  EAE strongly supports our international students, and will work with each of you to provide excellent education wherever you are located this Fall. Students with an F-1 visa that prefer to come to Salt Lake City are required to enroll in at least one (three credit) in-person or hybrid course to maintain student status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  To address this need, EAE will offer a second section of EAE 6100, Rapid Prototyping, open specifically for international students and taught as a hybrid class that will meet ICE requirements. This section supports the same learning objectives, processes and experiential learning available to students in the remote section of this course. Students in both sections will work together on teams to define and build their game projects.
  • Admitted students that don’t wish to come to Salt Lake or take courses remotely for Fall 2020 have the option of deferring their admission until Fall of 2021.
For our incoming and continuing students in the BS in Games degree program:
  • Incoming international students have the option of obtaining an F-1 visa and coming to Salt Lake City or remaining in their home countries to take courses remotely for Fall 2020.  Similar support is provided for students already studying here in Salt Lake. EAE strongly supports our international students, and will work with each of you to provide excellent education in EAE classes wherever you are located this Fall. Many of EAE’s undergraduate courses are being offered in Fall 2020 via online delivery. Students wishing to stay in their home countries for Fall should refer to the university’s Fall 2020 schedule and reach out to the EAE undergraduate advisors to discuss course options.  Students with an F-1 visa that decide to study in Salt Lake City are required to enroll in at least one (three credit) in-person or hybrid course to maintain student status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  To meet this need, students can enroll in one of the U’s in-person or hybrid courses.  EAE is offering a number of courses that meet this requirement.

For all students on F-1 visas that are considering study in Salt Lake City for Fall 2020:
  • The SEVP policy change states that, should a university switch to 100% online classes mid-semester, students enrolled in its courses on F-1 visas will be required to leave the country.  From the SEVP News Release:
    • “Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load. Non-immigrant 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.”

Students should keep this aspect of the SEVP policy in mind as they consider their options for Fall 2020.

Finally, please be mindful that the pandemic continues to impact EAE and the University of Utah, and that our changes to teaching that involve on-line courses for Fall 2020 center around health and safety for our students, faculty and staff.  As you make decisions around your education, you can stay up-to-date by reviewing information provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (here), by the State of Utah coronavirus information website (here) and the U’s Coronavirus Central site (here).