Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students' visa
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement had said that for the fall 2020 semester students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the US.
United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday repealed the directive to deport international students if they chose to only take online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The controversial rule was announced on July 6 giving rise to international outrage. The US immigration authority announced that foreign students will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only classes during the upcoming (September to December) semester.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had specified that students who are in the US on F-1 and M-1 visas fall under the ambit of the decision.
The outrage was followed by a series of litigation, which began with a suit brought by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The suit was soon following by another by California's public colleges and then one by a coalition of 17 states.
The institutions wanted “permanent injunctive relief “ to bar the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the ICE from enforcing the federal guidelines that was described to be xenophobic and unfair.
In addition to educational institutions, tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, joined the MIT and Harvard in the US District Court in Massachusetts. Seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, these companies, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.
The suits seemed to have served its purpose with Trump administration dropping the controversial plan to deport hundreds and thousands of international students, including Indians.
"I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. They will return to the status quo," Judge Allison Burroughs, the federal district judge in Boston, said in a surprise statement at the top of the hearing on the lawsuit.
Judge Burroughs said the policy would apply nationwide.
"Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace," she said, referring to the agreement between the US government and MIT and Harvard.
So to summarize - The Trump Administration has rescinded the 7/6 F-1 students directive. Schools can go online if they want. No new I-20s needed. F-1 visas should be proceeding. Congratulations Harvard and the Wilmer Hale team. Big big win!— (((Greg Siskind))) (@gsiskind) July 14, 2020
Taking into account the profound impact that the decision would have on Indian students Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had raised the issue with the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale during an online meeting.
The announcement came as a big relief for scores of Indian students pursuing their higher education in the US. Nearly 2 lakh Indian students had enrolled into various institutions in January, this year, according to a Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) report. In 2018-2019, the country had over one million international students in graduate and undergraduate programmes. The number translates to nearly 5.5% of the country’s total student community, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). Of this, Indians contribute to 26%, second only to the Chinese at 48%.