The United States government on Tuesday rescinded its order that would have stripped international college students of their visas if their courses move fully online because of the coronavirus pandemic. The government agreed to rescind its directive in response to a Lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Trump Administration on July 6th came up with a directive asking the International Students in the United States of America to leave the Country if they were taking all their classes online.
Typically, federal regulations in the United States restrict international students from taking more than one online class at a time. In March, as colleges shifted their courses online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government suspended enforcement of those regulations, assuring colleges that international students could remain in the U.S. while taking a fully online curriculum.
However, on July 6, the government abruptly reversed course, saying that continuing and new international students could not legally stay in the United States if they were taking all their classes online. Universities and higher education groups pushed back strongly, and the first lawsuit from Harvard and MIT was filed two days later. Both the universities said in their lawsuit that the order would harm students immensely, adding that it was “cruel and illegal”. Harvard had announced it would conduct all classes online in the 2020-21 academic year.
At least 20 states and the District of Columbia and about two dozen universities filed various lawsuits to block the policy change from going into effect. Harvard and MIT, both of which plan to conduct most of their fall coursework online argued in their lawsuit that the July 6 directive reflected an effort by the government to force universities to reopen despite the continuing dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The order could have forced tens of thousands of foreign students to leave the country if their universities switch to online classes. Those students must transfer or leave the country, or they potentially face deportation proceedings, it said. The rules applied to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students.