Trump Administration Backs Off Plans to Revoke Student Visas

July 14th, 2020 Peter Bibler

DHS has agreed to rescind its rule to revoke student visas for international students whose schools have converted to an entirely online curriculum.

Last week, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a new rule under the Student and Exchange Visa Program (SEVP) prohibiting international students from remaining in the United States if their schools held courses entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. New visas would not have been issued to international students attending schools that were switching to online instruction, and those already in the United States would have faced deportation if they did not leave voluntarily, change schools, or somehow obtain alternative visa status.

The rule sparked broad opposition from universities and employers across America. Immediately after ICE’s announcement, Harvard and MIT filed lawsuits to block implementation. Attorneys general from 20 states likewise challenged the rule. Opponents argued the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the federal government issued the rule abruptly without explanation and without opportunity for public comment. They noted that in ICE’s initial guidance from March removing limits to online classes, ICE indicated the exemption would extend through the duration of the emergency.

Although the government stated the rule was consistent with the traditional bar against international students taking only online courses, it agreed to rescind the rule before the judge was scheduled to hear the case.

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