07-09-20 | Association News

ASLA and CELA Against Temporary Exemptions for Nonimmigrant Students

Urges Presidential Administration to Reconsider

Campuses across the country canceled classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic with recent plans to re-open consisting of online courses for many.

With the announcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's modifications to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) have urged the Trump Administration to reconsider.

Under these modifications, nonimmigrant students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

As the health pandemic continues, many universities have turned to online learning as a way to provide education while allowing students and teachers to remain safe. The ASLA states penalizing hard-working students for the life-saving precautions of their schools is unfair, impractical, and harmful not only to the students, but to the integrity of American higher education and the economic future of the nation.

ASLA president, Wendy Miller, FASLA, said landscape architecture students from around the world help lift the profession and enrich the learning experience through the unique perspective each student brings. "Depriving those dedicated students of the opportunity to remain in the United States is profoundly short-sighted and detrimental not only to the field of landscape architecture, but to every field of study." 

"In 1975, I left my home in Turkey to pursue my graduate studies in the United States, so I know firsthand the challenges of being a nonimmigrant student," said CELA President Sadik Artunc, FASLA, "If I had been forced to return to my native country without a degree, I certainly would not be leading the most recognized educational organization of landscape architectural academicians in the world."


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