President of the United States, Donald Trump has ruled out his administration’s decision which required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The president since the announcement has been under fire facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities in the United States.
During a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute, US District Judge Allison announced that the federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and return to the status quo.
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, would now feel a sense of relief.
On July 6, 2020, the Trump administration announced that international students at U.S. universities “operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” according to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program,SEVP.
“The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings”, they declared.
Under the policy, international students in the U.S. would have been forbidden from taking all their courses online this fall. New visas would not have been issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the U.S. would have faced deportation if they didn’t transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.
Immigration officials issued the policy last week, reversing earlier guidance from March 13 telling colleges that limits around online education would be suspended during the pandemic. University leaders believed the rule was part of President Donald Trump’s effort to pressure the nation’s schools and colleges to reopen this fall even as new virus cases rise.
They argued that they told colleges all along that any guidance prompted by the pandemic was subject to change.
They said the rule was consistent with existing law barring international students from taking classes entirely online. Federal officials said they were providing leniency by allowing students to keep their visas even if they study online from abroad.