Trump administration rescinds rule on international students, preventing risk of deportation
Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”
A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge’s characterization was correct.
The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall in light of the policy.
With the policy rescinded, ICE will revert to a directive from March that suspended typical limits around online education for foreign students.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University sued the government over the plan.
The agreement reinstates a policy implemented in March, amid the virus outbreak, which allows international students to attend their classes virtually if necessary and remain legally in the country on student visas, according to the New York Times.
District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts says the parties who went after the government have come to a settlement.
This comes after Harvard recently announced its intention to deliver its courses online for the new academic year amid coronavirus concerns.
Foreign students were told last week that they would not be allowed to stay in the US this autumn unless they switched to a course with in-person tuition.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency had said people could face deportation if they did not comply with the rules.
On 6 July the agency said foreign students who then failed to switch to in-person courses could face "immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings".
In response, Harvard and MIT filed lawsuits to overturn the directive, calling it "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion".
Universities in the US signed a court brief to support the action.