Administration reverses restrictions on international student visas

July 14, 2020

Dear Johns Hopkins Community:

I want to be sure you heard some significant and very welcome news for our community. In an important victory for international students at Johns Hopkins and other universities, the federal government today agreed to rescind a change to rules for F-1 visa holders that would have prevented many students from coming back to the United States for studies this fall and could have forced others to leave the country at a moment’s notice. The announcement came at the opening of a hearing in federal court to address a challenge to the rule by Harvard and MIT. Johns Hopkins filed an amicus brief in that case and tomorrow we were due to argue our own court case in Washington, D.C. For now, we will leave our case open, but the administration’s action suggests it may be moot.

As we shared last week, the rule at issue threatened the visa status of international students enrolled in online courses, reversing guidance the administration issued earlier this year that provided needed flexibility as COVID cases first began to spike in the United States and universities switched to remote learning in response. The administration provided assurances that those accommodations would remain in effect for the duration of the emergency. This month’s sudden and unexpected policy change upended months of Johns Hopkins’ careful planning to balance the desire to resume in-person education with our bedrock commitment to follow the best guidance of our public health experts on how to keep our community safe during the pandemic. Today’s announcement leaves in place the appropriate accommodations from March.

International students still face significant obstacles this fall. The guidance the administration has now left in place continues to cast doubt on the ability of new and transfer students outside the U.S. to come here to begin studies, and travel restrictions will limit the options of many others. We stand ready to help all of our international students continue their educations in the best way possible during these difficult times. Our Office of International Services is providing aid those who require it and can be reached at 667-208-7001 or by email at

For generations, the world’s most innovative and ambitious people have flocked to this nation for the opportunities it offers. America’s colleges and universities have been a beacon for those whose talent and drive have fueled the discoveries that foster social progress and create economic opportunity, including thousands of jobs.

I want to thank all those in our community who spoke out against this unjust, capricious, and cruel policy. Many of our students who faced the prospect of being forced to uproot their lives and leave this country came forward courageously to tell their stories to the court. They exemplify the truth that welcoming international scholars makes this country stronger.



Ronald J. Daniels
Johns Hopkins University