Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Trump administration rescinds international student policy on online classes

July 14, 2020
The policy announced last week could have forced students to leave the United States if their schools were not offering in-person classes.

The Trump administration is dropping a much-criticized plan that would have required international college students to leave the United States unless they are enrolled in the fall term in at least one face-to-face class.

The Washington Post reports that the abrupt reversal came a little more than a week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued an edict that outraged U.S. higher education leaders.

Under the July 6 policy from ICE, international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities for the fall semester faced a mandate to take at least one course in person.

That mandate posed a major obstacle to plans for online teaching and learning that colleges are developing in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the spring, the federal government had given schools much more leeway to teach international students online.

Soon after the policy was disclosed, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued to block enforcement of the rules. That was followed by a lawsuit brought by 19 state attorneys general.

The Harvard Crimson reports that during a hearing on the Harvard/MIT suit, U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs announced the parties had agreed to a resolution of the case.

ICE will revert to the guidance it issued in March that allows students taking online courses to reside in the United States on F-1 visas.

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