After dozens of American universities join together in a suit against ICE, the Trump Administration has decided to not enforce policy which requires all foreign students to return to their home country if their school switched to online learning.
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that those on F-1 and M-1 student visas would need to leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools offer classes entirely online when they reopen in the fall,” Fox News reported. Otherwise they’d face the risk of deportation.
Last week, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program released a statement saying students who are now relegated to only online courses “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.” While foreign students are allowed to take some classes online, under current immigration directives they must take at least one in-person course in order to remain in the U.S. lawfully.
This followed a litany of colleges and universities announcing their intentions to host the Fall 2020 semester entirely virtually as fears of a second Coronavirus wave mount.
Immediately after the announcement, students and university faculty rallied behind international students, calling the action unfair and impractical. Many international students wouldn’t have the same access to their classes in their home countries due to time zone differences, internet accessibility, and potential firewalls put in place by their own government, such as the case with Chinese students.
One petition has already garnered 138,000 signatures.
According to Business Insider, over 200 universities have joined together in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s new rule, “arguing that the policy jeopardizes students’ safety and forces schools to reconsider fall plans they have spent months preparing.” They’re also claiming the rules “blindsided” them and they’re set to lose millions if international students choose not to enroll as these students pay the most money for tuition and rarely receive scholarships.
Preexisting DHS policies require international students to attend in-person courses in order to remain in the country, however the administration has decided to overlook the requirement amid the pandemic.