The U.S. Department of Homeland Security rescinded a new policy guideline that would prohibit foreign students from staying in the United States if the colleges they attend will only offer online courses this fall.
U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs confirmed announced Tuesday afternoon that the federal agency agreed to rescind the guidance to settle a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston federal court.
“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution,” Burroughs said, reported Boston Herald. “They will return to the status quo.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 6 that it is shifting away from an earlier exemption, which allowed foreign nationals to take more online courses than “normally permitted by federal regulation” throughout spring and summer while keeping their student status, as institutions across the country transitioned to online education due to the pandemic. Typically, foreigners are required to take no more than one class online for each semester, otherwise they risk having their student visa denied or revoked.
Harvard and MIT filed the lawsuit on July 15 against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE, arguing that the policy change, which would result in the deportation of foreign students whose courses are taught entirely online, reflects an effort by the federal government to force universities to resume in-person classes amid the pandemic without sufficient time to address potential health risks.