Trump administration rescinds foreign students visa policy

The Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded its July 6 rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The universities of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the support of a number of other institutions, had filed series of lawsuits against the move that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 6 that it would not allow foreign students attending US colleges to stay in the country if all of their classes are moved online in the fall over the coronavirus crisis.

Judge Allison Burroughs, the federal district judge in Boston, said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”

The announcement came as a big relief to international students who had been at risk of being deported from the country.

The controversy began after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

“The US 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,” the ICE said on July 6.