US Drops Plan To Deport Foreign Students Taking Online-Only Classes - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Wednesday, 15 July 2020

US Drops Plan To Deport Foreign Students Taking Online-Only Classes

US Drops Plan To Deport Foreign Students Taking Online-Only Classes

*International students will be allowed retain their US visas even if taking college classes remotely
*Federal judge in Massachusetts announces settlement of lawsuit originally brought by Harvard and MIT

The US government has rescinded a directive that would have stripped visas from thousands of international students whose courses are offered online only, it was announced on Tuesday.

The move came after dozens of universities, tech firms and US states joined Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in trying to block the new policy.

“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution of the combined … preliminary injunction motion,” Judge Allison Burroughs of the Massachusetts District Court said in a hearing that lasted about two minutes.

Guidance for international students “will return to the status quo as established by the March 9, 2020, policy directive … and will preclude the enforcement of the July 2020 policy directive and frequently asked questions on a nationwide basis,” she said.

US Drops Plan To Deport Foreign Students Taking Online-Only Classes

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On July 6, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division announced its intention to rescind the right of international students to remain in the US while taking online-only courses – an allowance granted in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic – although the agency had not published the change ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.

ICE signalled the rule change as many universities, including Harvard and MIT, announced plans to keep their courses online only because of health concerns. ICE had given universities offering remote instruction only nine days, until Wednesday, to register “operational change plans”.

Schools offering a hybrid of online and in-person instruction would have had to issue certifications by August 4 for each international student remaining in the US for such a curriculum to guarantee they are taking the minimum number of in-person courses.

In legal briefs filed to Burroughs ahead of the hearing, Harvard and MIT argued that the move was “capricious” because its main intent was to force schools to reopen, and that it violated a law meant to protect businesses from arbitrary decisions that could adversely affect business operations.

Trump, along with US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has been pushing for the reopening of schools at all levels as a way to counter the economic turmoil and unemployment caused when most states enacted social distancing rules to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Many of those states, including California and Florida, are now reversing their reopening plans – closing restaurants, cinemas and fitness clubs – as infection numbers rise.

The federal government’s defence team, led by US Attorney Andrew Lelling, contended in their pre-hearing briefs that ICE had warned that the March allowance was subject to change and was not subject to the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for public participation in the formulation of government agency rules.

Some 44 per cent of US universities and other post-secondary educational institutions are planning to be fully online, offering a hybrid model or have not yet decided how they will run the upcoming academic year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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