U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security are walking back the early July ruling that foreign students whose schools opted to go all-online for the fall 2020 semester must leave the country or transfer to a school with some on-campus classes.
The move was announced by federal judge Allison D. Burroughs at a hearing on Tuesday for the case Harvard and MIT filed last week asking the courts to bar DHS and ICE from enforcing the rule, the Harvard Crimson reported. Hundred of other schools had backed Harvard and MIT’s suit.
Now, ICE will stick with the update to its rules issued in March that allow students taking online courses to reside in the United States on F-1 visas.
“Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace,” Burroughs said, according to the New York Times.
The rescinded ruling actually gave international students more flexibility for hybrid class models than were allowed under normal visa rules, but was a rollback of more open rules that were in place for the spring and summer semesters of 2020. Under normal circumstances, international students can only take one class or three credit hours online.
In addition to the universities involved, the attorneys general of at least 18 states also sued, according to the Times. They said that the policy was “reckless, cruel and senseless.”On Tuesday, over a dozen technology companies publicly supported the lawsuit, the Times reported, saying that the policy would “harm their businesses”
“America’s future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students,” the companies said in court papers, according to the Times.