While following new federal rules, WMU to continue welcoming, strongly supporting international students

Dear WMU community,

Western Michigan University has a long history of welcoming the world to Kalamazoo, and we enroll more than 1,700 international undergraduate and graduate students. We are also proud of having alumni in more than 140 countries. They represent us across the globe in business, administration, government, education and many other arenas, demonstrating time and time again that we prepare our graduates to make a contribution and a positive difference in the world, wherever and however they choose.   

Earlier this week, we learned that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, has added a new rule to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, DHS has decided to end the flexibility it had extended in the spring. Under this last-minute rule, issued weeks before the start of fall semester, international students who were planning to study at a U.S. college or university that will only be offering fall semester classes online must return to their home countries or transfer to another institution that offers some level of in-person instruction.

We stand with those across higher education in the belief that increasingly restrictive immigration policies undermine both America's vast potential as a country as well as the potential embedded in our academic institutions. They stifle our competitiveness, thwart our search for global talent and deprive us of the benefits of global diversity that enrich us all. We will continue to do our part to advocate against these restrictions and urge others in the WMU community to do so as well.

At Western Michigan University, we greatly value all of our students and continuously strive to create an open and welcoming learning environment. Undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 nations call our campus home, and we are exceedingly proud of our longstanding commitment to global education and understanding. We think it is critical that our international students know they are welcome here and that we make every effort to ensure that they can continue their studies and graduate from WMU.

When our fall semester begins on Sept. 2, we will provide our international students with the ability to pursue their WMU studies. Our structure will meet ICE’s criteria for a hybrid model, that is, a mixture of online and in-person classes, which provides the most flexibility for in-person education. International students who need information can visit WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education advising page or send an email with specific questions. The institute’s staff is prepared to respond with the most current information that is available, and I thank them for their continuing hard work and diligence in serving our students.


Edward Montgomery