Addressing the SEVP Policy on Distance Learning 


From Seattle University President, Stephen V. Sundborg on July 8, 2020:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This week’s decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue new guidance that would prohibit international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if the university they are attending has to move to remote-only instruction this fall is deeply troubling, misguided and discriminatory.

As the pandemic took hold with the spread of COVID-19 this past spring, DHS waived the requirement that international students take in-person classes. It makes no sense to end the waiver as the pandemic continues to create unprecedented challenges and increased uncertainty for the fall.

While Seattle University’s current plans are to reopen this fall with a mix of in-person, hybrid and virtual classes and our goal is to have as much in-person instruction as safely possible, we have also been preparing for scenarios if circumstances are such that we must move to remote-only instruction. What is most important for international students and institutions at this time is the need for greater support and flexibility as well as a recognition that the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff must remain the foremost priority.

The DHS decision moves in the wrong direction and runs counter to the commitments and values we strive to uphold as a Jesuit university that prioritizes caring for each individual student and supporting you to the fullest extent possible in your educational journey. International students are greatly valued as members of our community and make significant contributions to the life of the university, and they should have the same opportunities as all other students to continue their education. The discriminatory order from DHS could harm the academic aspirations of hundreds of Seattle U students who enhance our educational mission and campus community.

I want to assure our international students that we are fully committed to doing everything we can to support you during this extraordinary time. In addition to publicly joining others in urging the DHS to reconsider its position, we have already begun to reach out to our members of Congress and consult with our higher education associations to determine collective action we can take to reverse this ill-advised decision.

Seattle U is a welcoming and inclusive community that is steadfast in our commitment to provide a supportive learning environment for every student in our campus community—regardless of background, religion, beliefs, identity, country of origin or immigration status. We find enrichment and strength in our diversity.

Our International Student Center team will remain in close contact with students impacted by this decision. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Dale Watanabe, director of the center, at should you have any questions or concerns needing to be addressed.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.


From Dale Watanabe, Director of the International Student Center at Seattle University, on July 9, 2020:

Dear International Student:

We support you and understand this is a difficult time for you.  I know the regulation update for the fall that was released on Monday was troubling and created a lot of fear for you. It was surprising and shocking for us to see this update too.  In Monday’s email, it was not my intent to create fear, but I wanted to make sure you had all the information available relating to the update.  Please know you have the commitment of the entire ISC team to do everything in our power to keep you here and protect your status.  Also understand that this policy could be reversed if the Harvard and MIT lawsuit are successful.  Below I would like to outline further guidance to support you during this time:

  1. Seattle University is planning a hybrid model of instruction for the fall term (20FQ and 20FS). This means that you have the support from the University to remain in the country and return to the U.S. for the fall term.
  2. Under the regulation, the hybrid model requires that you be enrolled in at least one class that requires an “in-person” component. In most cases this class will be in your academic department. In the situation where your department has no in-person options available, we are working with ELLC to develop a hybrid/in-person class for you to take.
  3. If fall is your last term, you cannot register for only online courses unless you plan on returning home in the term and not continuing in F-1 status.
  4. Because we are under an official hybrid model, a new Form I-20 needs to be issued for you. If you are outside the United States, you will be given priority on getting the updated I-20.
  5. Please note that we are working on these new I-20s as quickly as we can, but with the number of I-20s we need to reissue it will take time. You will receive your updated Form I-20 by the first week of August.
  6. If you are on Optional Practical Training and will not be enrolled for classes in the fall term, you DO NOT need an updated Form I-20 to reflect the hybrid model.
  7. We are working closely with the University administration to ensure that if the ICE/SEVP rule is not modified, we will not switch to fully online and remain hybrid for as long as legally possible.

If you want to read the full ICE/SEVP 06 JUL 2020 memo, you can find it here:



Dale Watanabe

Director, International Student Center


Executive Order 13769


Campus Response to Immigration Orders

February 9, 2017 - Ninth Circuit rules against reinstating travel ban

February 3, 2017 - AG Ferguson obtains court order halting Trump immigration action

February 2, 2017 - Statement from the International Student Center on the Immigration Executive Order

Dear SU International Students,

The Seattle University International Student Center realizes that the recent immigration policy changes enacted by the Trump Administration have had a big impact on our international students and scholars. As a new government administration is now in Office here in the United States, there are always changes to large-scale societal systems that accompany new leadership, and I am writing to update you on what these changes are and how they might impact you as a non-resident immigrant within the USA.  This Executive Order contains provisions that seriously impact individuals from particular countries of origin. Additionally, effects of the Executive Order’s increased screening procedures will likely have an impact on travel and possibly adjudication of USCIS benefits for many other immigrant or non-immigrant visa holders. If you have any immediate questions or concerns about your immigration status, please know that the International Student Center is here as an immigration resource.

Overview of the JANUARY 27, 2017 Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States

Individuals on both Immigrant* or Non-Immigrant Visas from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen (ie. Nationals of these countries, or including those who were born in or are permanent residents of these countries, or are dual nationals) please be aware of the following key issues which directly impact the ability to obtain visas or enter the US.

  • Suspension of Visas and Entry to U.S.- The Executive Order specifically suspends issuance of U.S. visas or permission to enter the US for 90 days, starting from January 27, 2017. At this time it is unclear when visa issuance and re-entry permission will resume.
  • Possible Suspension of USCIS benefits- The Executive Order also includes wording which suggests that USCIS benefits (such as Change of Status, Employment Authorization including OPT and OPT STEM Extensions, H1-B petitions) may also be suspended for 90 days from January 27, 2017.
  • *UPDATE: Department of Homeland Security released a fact sheet on January 29, 2017 invoking an exception to the entry ban for Lawful Permanent Residents (AKA: green card holders) of the United States travelling on a valid I-551 (commonly called green card). Lawful Permanent Residents will be assessed at arrival ports of entry, and will be permitted entry subject to security checks.

Individuals on Immigrant or Non-Immigrant Visas from all other countries please be aware of the following additional issues of concern. For the near future, the SU International Student Center recommends minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration’s policies on visas and U.S. entry.

  • Suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP)- The Executive Order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows individuals to apply for visas or visa renewal without an in-person interview. Effective immediately, interviews will be required for all visa applications.
  • Increased Screenings, Possible Travel and USCIS Processing Delays- Due to the Executive Order’s suspension of VIWP and call for increased scrutiny at the Port of Entry and at consulates and embassies abroad, immigrant and nonimmigrant travelers should expect increased travel delays when applying for a new U.S. visa or when entering the U.S. The new Executive Order also suggests that USCIS benefits will undergo increased screening, which is likely to cause delays in benefit issuance. 
  • Future Changes in Visa Issuance for additional countries- Provisions of the Executive order call for a review of U.S. visa issuance procedures in all countries, as well as visa reciprocity provisions. These continuing revisions and reviews may result in countries being added to or removed from the visa/entry suspension list, changes in fees, or visa lengths.

The International Students Center will continue to monitor immigration related changes impacting our international students, and if you need anything our have outstanding questions please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 206-296-6260 or at


The International Student Center Team