The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have reversed its controversial order to deport foreign students in the country whose courses move online due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The reversal in the decision comes one week after the initial policy was announced and follows a lawsuit instituted by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) against the US Government.
“The government has agreed to rescind” the decision as well as any implementation of the directive, District Judge, Allison Burroughs, in Massachusetts said in a brief hearing. The resolution came less than five minutes into a hearing for the case, BBC reports.
Harvard and MIT earlier this month had asked the court to block the order announced by ICE that students must leave the country if their classes are only online, or transfer to a school offering in-person tuition.
The universities referred to ICE’s directive as “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The suit was followed by a separate lawsuit including 17 states and DC, with support from hundreds of universities.
The universities also claimed in their lawsuit that the order would harm students “immensely,” both personally and financially.
The ICE will now reinstate the guidelines it applied to the Spring 2020 semester, which allowed international students with F-1 visas to take fully online course loads while retaining their visa status. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), there were more than one million international students in the US for the 2018-19 academic year.
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