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Swamped by Lawsuits, US Drops Rule on Foreign Students

Hundreds of universities were fighting administration policy change
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 14, 2020 3:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the AP reports. US District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and "return to the status quo." A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge's characterization was correct.

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The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall. Under the policy, international students in the US would have been prohibited from taking all their courses online this fall. New visas would not have been issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the US would have faced deportation if they didn't transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily. Immigration officials issued the policy last week, reversing March 13 guidance telling colleges that limits around online education would be suspended during the pandemic. University leaders considered the rule to be part of President Trump’s effort to pressure the nation's schools and colleges to reopen this fall even as new virus cases rise.

(Read more foreign students stories.)

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