The White House is rolling back rules that would have required foreign university students to leave the country if their classes were remote only, government lawyers announced during a hearing at a Boston federal court over a lawsuit brought by major U.S. universities.
It was unclear if the rule, which was announced last week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will be replaced with different restrictions on foreign students.
Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.
Under the original policy, visas would be voided for international students whose classes were online only, subjecting them to deportation or forcing them to transfer to schools with in-person instruction, and new visas would not be issued to those accepted to universities that had gone remote.
As of Monday, 200-plus universities had signed briefs supporting the lawsuit brought by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to stop the rule from taking effect; attorneys general from 18 states also filed suits opposing the rule.
In a CNN interview, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said “there isn’t a reason” for international students to be in the U.S. if classes are online-only, saying these restrictions would “encourage schools to reopen.”
The university plaintiffs said that the policy would “create as much chaos for universities and international students as possible,” compromising the “health and safety” of university communities.
1.1 million: Nearly this many international students were enrolled at colleges in the U.S. for the 2018-19 academic year, per the Journal.
“ICE’s decision reflects an effort by the federal government to force universities to reopen in-person classes, which would require housing students in densely packed residential halls, notwithstanding the universities’ judgment that it is neither safe nor educationally advisable to do so, and to force such a reopening when neither the students nor the universities have sufficient time to react to or address the additional risks to the health and safety of their communities,” reads the suit by the universities.
Universities are varying their approach to delivering education in the fall. Cornell University, a plaintiff in Harvard and MIT lawsuit, has decided upon a mix of online and in-person learning, as a survey found students would return to off-campus housing regardless of whether classes were conducted in person. Other colleges, like Harvard, have yet to announce the format of fall classes, while institutions like Scripps College in Southern California have decided to go online only.