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US Reverses Course on Limiting Visas for Foreign Students Studying Online

US Reverses Course on Limiting Visas for Foreign Students Studying Online

A group of new Asian students get an introduction to Columbia University from a student leader on the main lawn in front of the Columbia University Library in Upper Manhattan. (Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 14 July 2020 04:30 PM

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reversed course on a rule that would have prevented international students from remaining in the U.S. if their classes were only held online, the Boston Globe reports.

The announcement came during a federal district court hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and MIT seeking a temporary injunction of the guidelines.

The hearing lasted less than five minutes, according to the newspaper. The government announced it would rescind the rule change, which was announced last week and resulted in major blowback from academic institutions and businesses that feared a loss of valuable foreign talent.

Last week, the Trump administration announced the new directive that barred any foreign student from staying in the U.S. if their classwork is completely online.

Once the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rules were announced, colleges began to sue the Trump administration. Nearly 60 schools filed legal briefings backing the Harvard/MIT lawsuit. The rule challenge also received support from Facebook, Google and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The universities wrote in court documents filed Tuesday before the hearing that the new rules would “diminish the incomparable contributions made by international students to American social sector organizations, businesses, and the economy.”

They argued that the federal government was forcing Harvard and MIT to “choose between a reckless reopening or reopening or forsaking their [international] students.”

In addition, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, joined by counterparts from 16 other states and the District of Columbia, sued the Trump administration Monday over the new rule.

The states argued the rule would cause significant financial harm to universities that would lose out on tuition and other revenue from international students. The suit also argued that the federal government didn’t take into account the health of students, faculty, and staff, if international students are required to attend courses in person, and failed to consider that remote learning may not be possible in other countries.

Healey tweeted about the government’s decision to pull the rules.

“This is why we sue,” she wrote. “The rule was illegal and the Trump Administration knew they didn’t have a chance. They may try this again. We will be ready.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was part of the lawsuit challenging the new rules, also tweeted about the decision.

“Schools should never have to choose between enrolling international students & public health, period,” she wrote.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted she was “glad the Trump admin agreed to rescind this dangerous & xenophobic #StudentBan policy after we demanded they reverse course & MA schools sued them.”

“I’ll keep fighting to make sure it stays that way,” the Democratic Party lawmaker wrote. “When we fight back, we can make a real difference.”

In court documents filed on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling stated that the federal government has always been concerned about international students learning remotely in the U.S.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, international students were not allowed to take more than one online course. That requirement was waived during the virus outbreak.

ICE made “the decision to exercise its discretion to ‘modify’ its posture announced in its March guidance,” Lelling wrote, adding that colleges and universities can offer a hybrid approach of online learning and in-person classes.

“This agile approach to the Fall 2020 semester demonstrates that ICE considered and balanced the equities of schools, foreign students, and the agency’s need to uphold and enforce the immigration laws and regulations,” Lelling said.

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The Department of Homeland Security has reversed course on a rule that would have prevented international students from remaining in the U.S. if their classes were online-only, the Boston Globe reports. The announcement came during a federal district court hearing Tuesday in...
students
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2020-30-14
Tuesday, 14 July 2020 04:30 PM
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