NC State Working to Address Recent Student Visa Directives

NC State gateway at sunset

“International students are an essential and valued part of our NC State community,” Chancellor Randy Woodson affirmed in a message to the university’s international student population and all members of the university community. “As a university, we are dedicated to doing all we can to ensure your educational pathway at NC State is not interrupted.”

Virtual Town Hall Addresses Questions and Concerns

NC State’s Office of International Services (OIS) held a virtual town hall meeting for the campus community on Wednesday that focused on the recent guidance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about international student visas and enrollment. OIS received more than 375 questions in the last 48 hours regarding this issue, in addition to numerous communication from student leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators offering to help and expressing their concerns about the impact on NC State’s international student population. The town hall, which was hosted on Zoom, hit the 500 person capacity within the first five minutes. A recording of the webinar is now available online that provides more context about the recently issued guidance and addresses many of the related concerns. Viewers will need to log in with a current Unity ID.

“You all need to know the campus has your back,” OIS Director Beth James told students watching the webinar. “NC State and the UNC System are working very hard to advocate on your behalf. The university has been very aware of the disproportionate impact the global pandemic has had on international students.”

James added that the UNC System is working with Congressman David Price’s office to discuss how the recent directives impact international students across the entire system. NC State has the largest international student population among the 16 universities across the state system. Most of the advocacy efforts focus on the directive that would require international students to leave the U.S. or transfer to a different institution that offers face-to-face instruction if NC State moves to fully online classes again like it did in the spring.

University Operating In Hybrid Status for Fall 2020

NC State plans to operate in a hybrid status for the fall semester, which means international students must take at least one in-person course to remain in the U.S. The OIS staff is focused now on reissuing new I-20s to the roughly 4300 international students currently enrolled at NC State. The new visa documents will attest that students are enrolled in at least one in-person course. James added that research credits, dissertation and thesis credits, as well as co-op credits will be considered as in-person courses.

Students can check the status of their classes in the “Class Schedule” section of MyPack Portal. The university has already updated all the courses that were moved to an online status: those will be marked as “online delivery” or “distance education” in the room designation. James said there are 435 students who are not currently enrolled in a face-to-face course for the fall, which represents about 10% of the international student population. The OIS staff will be reaching out to those students to discuss the best path forward.

The exception to this guidance is for students who are enrolled in the Intensive English Program (IEP). They will be required to take all their courses in-person. The current plan had been for IEP courses at NC State to be conducted online since most students are currently overseas. University administrators are discussing options for students enrolled in IEP programs for the fall semester and will reach out to them directly.

Next Steps and Resources for Students

University administrators continue to seek clarification, explore creative solutions, and update plans in response to the recently issued directives. International students are advised to regularly check their emails and maintain communication with university staff.

Graduate student enrollment opens at 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 9, and undergraduate enrollment begins next week. The university will also notify students if and when additional courses that can help meet the new in-person requirements are added.