Update: Yale’s Actions on DHS Policy Regarding International Students and Online Education

July 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

On Tuesday, July 7, I wrote a message to the Yale community describing a new, misguided, and deeply troubling policy introduced by the Department of Homeland Security that intends to bar international students from coming to or remaining in the United States if their coursework is entirely online. My note expressed my dismay over a policy that is as damaging to our country’s universities as it is to the students they educate.

I write now with an update.

On July 8, Pericles Lewis, vice president for global strategy and Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of Comparative Literature, and Ann Kuhlman, executive director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, wrote to Yale’s international students to reassure them that the university intends to support them fully. Let me be clear: Yale will do everything in its power to ensure that none of our international students are denied their place on our campus as a result of DHS’s unwise policy. Student by student, we will determine how best to provide the in-person teaching required to preserve visa status under the terms of the new policy. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be in close touch with all affected students.

Furthermore, Yale will be joining other universities in filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit by Harvard and MIT requesting a temporary restraining order to block the implementation of the new ruling. We are taking this action for a simple reason: to do what we can to make sure the DHS policy receives judicial scrutiny. This ill-considered decision by the federal government must not go unchallenged: there is too much at stake for our international students, for the universities like Yale that welcome them, and for the country, which benefits so much from their contributions to scientific breakthroughs, medical care, economic growth—and our very understanding of the world. The inclusiveness of our great universities is a signal American strength; it must be preserved.

Yale is also working with the Connecticut attorney general to support the state’s effort, alongside those of other states, to challenge the DHS policy in court. I have also written to key members of Congress and the Trump administration seeking reversal of the policy.

To our international students: you are valued members of the Yale community, and we will get through this together. The deans of Yale College, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and our other graduate and professional schools consider this a matter of the greatest importance.

I will communicate further on this issue as circumstances warrant.    


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology