The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have retraced their steps on the controversial decision to revoke foreign student visas whose courses move online due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Both agencies reached an agreement with the universities of Harvard and MIT after they filed a lawsuit on July 8th against the move the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had announced on July 6.
“The government has agreed to rescind” the decision as well as any implementation of the directive, Judge Allison Burroughs said in a brief hearing.
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,