ASHG Opposes New Federal Rule on Online Training of International Students

Media Contact: Kara Flynn, ASHG Senior Director, Public Engagement, Communications & Marketing, 202.257.8424,

For Immediate Release

ROCKVILLE, MD – The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) opposes the new rules announced by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) regarding online learning by international students attending U.S. universities and other institutions. Under the policy, international students currently in the U.S. will be required to return to their home countries where their institutions provide courses online to protect the health of students and staff; many international scholars wishing to study in the U.S. will also be prevented from doing so.

“ASHG welcomes the many students who come to the U.S. to study science and contribute to advances in genetics and genomics research,” said ASHG President Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, PhD.  “Today’s biology students are tomorrow’s leaders in biomedical research, and the scientific enterprise is greatly strengthened by international scholars who first come to the U.S. as students.”

ASHG is the world’s largest genetics organization, and nearly one-third of its members reside outside the U.S. Many early-career scientists come to the United States to study genetics and to conduct research in U.S. laboratories, contributing to biomedical research and growing the U.S. economy.

“This policy threatens to damage the reputation of the U.S. as a place to pursue scientific learning and discovery, ” said Wynshaw-Boris.  “The new ICE’s regulations will be disruptive to the lives of many international students and to international scholars with ambitions to study in the United States. In the time of COVID-19, these regulations also disregard the health and safety of international students.  We need to pursue policies that welcome the best and brightest from around the world to our shores to study and conduct research.  The U.S. economy and the scientific enterprise are enriched by interactions among the international and American students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Global collaboration in science fosters new ideas that can create new knowledge that benefits all of us.”

About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit:

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