Trump administration backtracks on new foreign students directive

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security .

Immigration authorities tell federal court that the July 6 directive will be rescinded.

The Trump administration has rescinded an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive prohibiting international students who only take online classes from staying in the country, a federal judge announced earlier this afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo,” in a federal court in Boston on Tuesday afternoon.

The policy would have required international students to stay on-campus full time in order to stay in the US. The only options for these F-1 students would have been to leave the US, or to transfer schools.

RELATED: Foreign students face deportation if US schools go online (July 7, 2020)

The decision to drop the restrictions is coming after a number of premier colleges and institutions, such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University, filed cases against the government.

In its lawsuit, Harvard stated that the government failed to consider the harm the directive could have on international students and their families.

“The consequences of this sudden displacement are both financial and personal… some students will be forced to upend their young children’s lives by returning to their home countries, while others’ families will be split apart in order to comply with the July 6 Directive,” the lawsuit stated.

Many of these leading universities, including Harvard, will be operating entirely online this upcoming fall semester, while others, such as MIT, will only feature hybrid classes, meaning they would also lose millions of dollars in tuition would have been lost without their international students.

RELATED: Academics, immigrant bodies, lawmakers oppose international student ban (July 10, 2020)

Seventeen states, including two Republican-led states, had recently joined the lawsuit as well, citing that the new rule was “senseless and cruel.”

Several tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, companies whose employee demographic is largely composed of international students, had also joined the battle.

They presented an argument similar to those of the educational institutions in their legal brief, citing that the government “did not take account of the substantial benefits to US businesses from international students’ employment in the United States during and after their course of study.”

The announcement will allow the more than one million international students in the US to rest easy for now, the threat of deportation or transferring schools having subsided. It also brings a sigh of relief for hundreds of universities across the country that would have had to reassess their plans with only a few weeks before the start of the fall semester.

READ MORE:

Facebook, Google, Microsoft join battle against Trump foreign student ban (July 14, 2020)

Harvard, MIT sue US authorities for barring online-only foreign students (July 8, 2020)

Johns Hopkins joins battle against Trump’s ‘cruel attack’ on foreign students (July 13, 2020)

US says foreign students still welcome despite new rule (July 8, 2020)

Indian students asked to stay in touch with schools regarding OPT (June 18, 2020)

Canada leads the way in attracting and assimilating international students (May 13, 2020)

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