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Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Lawsuit

For many of our international students, studying in the United States and studying at Harvard is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. These students enrich the learning environment for everyone. Harvard, like many other institutions, has sought to balance addressing concerns for public health during this global pandemic with preserving our academic mission of teaching and scholarship, and we have undertaken careful planning to address the unique circumstances of our community and to enable students to make educational progress safely. We have done so recognizing that the unprecedented and unpredictable nature of the pandemic poses risks to the health of millions and threatens to overwhelm our capacity to manage it.

On March 13, 2020, the same day that President Trump declared a national emergency, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), issued guidance relaxing a cap on online coursework so that international students could continue their academic pursuits at a time when courses were moving remote as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 6, 2020, even though the government has not ended its declaration of a national state of emergency, ICE rescinded the March 13 guidance, stating that students attending entirely online programs may not remain in or be allowed to enter the country.

On July 8, 2020, Harvard and MIT filed pleadings (see President Bacow’s message) in the U.S. District Court in Boston seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the July 6 SEVP directive.

Key Points

Supporting Documents

On July 8, 2020, Harvard and MIT filed pleadings in the U.S. District Court in Boston seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the July 6, 2020 SEVP directive.

Harvard/MIT Filings

Complaint | Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (July 8, 2020)
Reply Brief | Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (July 14, 2020)

Declarations from Harvard and MIT Administrations and Students

Declaration | Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University (July 8, 2020)
Supplemental Declaration | Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University (July 13, 2020)
Declaration | Mark C. Elliott, Vice Provost for International Affairs, Harvard University
 (July 8, 2020)
Declaration | Cynthia Barnhart, Chancellor of MIT
 (July 8, 2020)
Declaration | Ian Waitz, Vice Chancellor of MIT (July 13, 2020)
Declaration and Exhibit A | Student #1
Declaration | Student #2
Declaration | Student #3
Declaration | Student #4
Declaration | Student #5
Declaration | Student #6
Declaration | Student #7
Declaration | Student #8

Amicus Briefs

Brief | U.S. Chamber of Commerce et al (July 13, 2020)

BSA | The Software Alliance; Information Technology Industry Council; Internet Association; Society for Human Resource Management; Technet; Adobe Systems Incorporated; Boston Consulting Group; Box, Inc.; Dropbox, Inc.; Facebook, Inc.; Github, Inc.; Google LLC; LinkedIn Corp.; Microsoft Corp.; Paypal Holdings, Inc.;, Inc.; Spotify USA Inc.; and Twitter, Inc.

Brief | 59 Institutions of Higher Education (July 13, 2020)

American University; Amherst College; Arizona State University; Barnard College; Boston University; Bowdoin College; Brandeis University; Brown University; Bucknell University; California Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University; Case Western Reserve University; Colby College; Columbia University; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; DePaul University; Duke University; Emory University; Franklin & Marshall College; George Washington University; Georgetown University; Hobart and William Smith Colleges; Indiana University; Johns Hopkins University; Michigan State University; Middlebury College; Muhlenberg College; Northeastern University; Northwestern University; Pennsylvania State University; Princeton University; Purdue University; Rice University; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Smith College; Stanford University; Suffolk University; Swarthmore College; Syracuse University; Trinity College; Tufts University; Tulane University; Union College; University of Chicago; University of Illinois; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Nebraska; University of Notre Dame; University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern California; Vanderbilt University; Washington University; Wellesley College; Wesleyan University; Williams College; Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Yale University

Brief | 14 Institutions of Higher Education (July 13, 2020)

New York University, University of Rochester, Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Glendale Community College, Cabrillo College, The Catholic University of America, San Diego Community College, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Rider University, Santa Rosa Junior College, The Art Center College of Design, The Coast Community College District, The Southern California Institute of Architecture, The South Orange County Community College District, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Brief | 26 Cities, Towns, and Counties (July 13, 2020)

The Cities of Los Angeles and Boston, together with the City of Albany, New York; the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico; the City of Alexandria, Virginia; the City of Austin, Texas; the City of Berkeley, California; the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts; the County of Cameron, Texas; the City of Chicago, Illinois; the City of Columbus, Ohio; Cook County, Illinois; the City Dayton, Ohio; the Town of Durham, New Hampshire; the City of Hartford, Connecticut; the City of Iowa City, Iowa; the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico; the City of New York, New York; the City of Oakland, California; the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the City of Sacramento, California; the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota; the City of Seattle, Washington; the County of Santa Clara, California; the City of Amherst, Massachusetts; and the City of Somerville, Massachusetts.

Brief | Student Governments of Higher Education Institutions (July 13, 2020)

Baylor University, Graduate Student Association; California Institute of Technology, Graduate Student Council; Carnegie Mellon University, Graduate Student Assembly; City University of New York, University Student Senate; Columbia University, Arts and Sciences Graduate Council; Duke University, Graduate and Professional Student Council; Georgetown University, Graduate Student Government; Harvard University, Undergraduate and Graduate Councils; Louisiana State University, Graduate Students’ Council; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council; New York University, Student Government Assembly; University of Chicago, Graduate Council; University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Graduate Student Organization; University of Michigan, Rackham Student Government; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Graduate and Professional Student Federation; Yale University Graduate and Professional Student Senate. 

Brief | American Federation of Teachers, et al (July 13, 2020)

Communications Workers of America; Service Employees International Union, and International Union; United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implementers of America.

Brief | University of Pittsburgh (July 13, 2020)

Brief | Princeton Theological Seminary (July 13, 2020)

Brief | United Chinese Americans, Inc. (July 13, 2020)

Brief | Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (July 13, 2020)

Brief | American Physical Society and Other Professional Societies (July 13, 2020)

American Physical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Institute of Physics; American Astronomical Society; American Meteorological Society; American Association of Physicists in Medicine; American Anthropological Association; American Mathematical Society; American Geophysical Union; American Society of Plant Biologists; Biophysical Society; Society of Vacuum Coaters; The Optical Society; Acoustical Society of America; American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; American Institute of Physics; American Astronomical Society; American Association for Dental Research; and Scientific Research Honor Society Sigma Xi. 

Brief | The American Council on Higher Education et al (July 13, 2020)

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges; American Association of Colleges of Nursing; American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy; American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers; American Association of Community Colleges; American Association of State Colleges and Universities; American Association of University Professors; American Dental Education Association; American Indian Higher Education Consortium; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; APPA: Leadership in Educational Facilities; Association of American Colleges and Universities; Association of American Law Schools; Association of American Medical Colleges; Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges; Association of American Universities; Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; Association of Chiropractic Colleges; Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities; Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design; Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts; Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania; Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; Association of Research Libraries; Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health; The College Board; College and University Professional Association for Human Resources; Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York; The Common Application; Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges; Council for Advancement and Support of Education; Council for Christian Colleges & Universities; Council for Higher Education Accreditation; Council of Graduate Schools; Council of Independent Colleges; Council on Governmental Relations; Educational Testing Service; EDUCAUSE; Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities; Higher Learning Commission; Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc.; Independent Colleges of Texas; Independent Colleges of Washington; Institute of International Education; Law School Admission Council; Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Minnesota Private College Council; NAFSA: Association for International Educators; NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; National Association for College Admission Counseling; National Association of College and University Business Officers; National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education; National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators; National Collegiate Athletic Association; National Council of University Research Administrators; New England Commission of Higher Education; North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc.; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities; Phi Beta Kappa; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; State Higher Education Executive Officers Association; University Risk Management and Insurance Association; and WASC Senior College and University Commission. 

Brief | President’s Allance on Higher Education and Immigration (July 11, 2020)

Adelphi University; Adler University; Agnes Scott College; Arizona State University; Augsburg University; Augustana College; Austin Community College District; Bates College; Beloit College; Bennington College; Bentley University; Berkshire Community College; Boston Architectural College; Boston University; Bowdoin College; Bryn Mawr College; Butler University; Cal State Long Beach; California Institute of Integral Studies; California Institute of the Arts; California Lutheran University; California Polytechnic State University; California State Polytechnic University Pomona; California State University; California State University Northridge; California State University San Marcos; California State University, Bakersfield; California State University, Chico; California State University, East Bay; California State University, Fresno; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Los Angeles; California State University, Monterey Bay; California State University, Sacramento; California State University, San Bernardino; California State University, Stanislaus; Calvin University; Carleton College; Central Washington University; Chapman University; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Christian Brothers University; Claremont Graduate University; Claremont McKenna College; Clark University; Colby-Sawyer College; College of the Holy Cross; Colorado College; Colorado State University System; Community Colleges of Spokane; Converse College; Cornell College; Davidson College; Dickinson College; Drexel University; Eastern Michigan University; Emerson College; Foothill-De Anza Community College District; Fordham University; Franklin & Marshall College; Gettysburg College; Gonzaga University; Goucher College; Greenfield Community College; Grinnell College; Guilford College; Hamilton College; Harper College; Hartwick College; Haverford College; Heidelberg University; Howard Community College; Illinois Institute of Technology; Ithaca College; Kenyon College; Knox College; La Sierra University; Lafayette College; Lake Forest College; Lawrence University; Lehigh University; Lenoir-Rhyne University; Lewis & Clark College; Loma Linda University; Loyola Marymount University; Loyola University Chicago; Macalester College; Manhattan College; Manhattanville College; Maryland Institute College of Art; Mercyhurst University; Mills College; Minnesota State University Moorhead; Montgomery College; Mount Holyoke College; MSU Denver; New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology; Northampton Community College; Northern Essex Community College; Northern Illinois University; Northern Virginia Community College; Oakland University; Oberlin College; Oregon State University; Pace University; Pacific Lutheran University; Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School; Palo Alto University; Pima Community College; Pitzer College; Pomona College; Portland Community College; Queens University of Charlotte; Ramapo College of New Jersey; Reed College; Regis University; Rhode Island School of Design; Rhodes College; Rochester Institute of Technology; Roosevelt University; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Rutgers University Newark; San Diego State University; San Jose State University; Santa Clara University; Sarah Lawrence College; Saybrook University; School of Visual Arts; Scripps College; Seattle Pacific University; Seattle University; Seton Hall University; Simmons University; Sonoma State University; Springfield College; St. Catherine University; St. Edward’s University; St. John’s University NY; St. Lawrence University; State Center Community College District; Stevens Institute of Technology; TCS Education System; The Chicago School of Professional Psychology; The College of Wooster; The New School; The Ohio State University; The University of Oklahoma; Trinity University; Trinity Washington University; University of Dayton; University of Denver; University of LaVerne; University of Maryland Baltimore; University of Miami; University of Michigan – Dearborn; University of Michigan-Flint; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of New Hampshire; University of North Texas; University of Oregon; University of Puget Sound; University of San Diego; University of SanFrancisco; University of the People; University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; University of the Southwest; University of Utah; Utah State University; Vassar College; Virginia Wesleyan University; Wabash College; Wake Forest University; Warren Wilson College; Washington and Lee University; Wayne State University; Weber State University; Western Oregon University; Western Washington University; Wheaton College (Massachusetts); Whitman College.

Other SEVP Lawsuits

Complaint | State Attorneys General (July 13, 2020)

Plaintiffs Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State of Colorado, State of Connecticut, State of Delaware, District of Columbia, State of Illinois, State of Maryland, State of Michigan, State of Minnesota, State of Nevada, State of New Jersey, State of New Mexico, State of Oregon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of Rhode Island, State of Vermont, Commonwealth of Virginia, and State of Wisconsin.

Complaint | University of Oregon et al (July 13, 2020)

Plaintiffs University of Oregon; Oregon State University; University of Southern California; Arizona State University; California Institute of Technology; Chapman University; Claremont McKenna College; Northern Arizona University; Pitzer College; Pomona College; President and Board of Trustees of Santa Clara College; Scripps College; Seattle University; Saint Mary’s College of California; University of Arizona; University of the Pacific; University of San Diego; University of San Francisco; and University of Utah.

Complaint | State of New York (July 13, 2020)

Complaint | State of Washington (July 10, 2020)

Complaint | Regents of the University of California (July 10, 2020)

Complaint | Johns Hopkins University (July 10, 2020)

Complaint | 7 Students from California Institutions of Higher Education (July 10, 2020)