US makes U-turn on foreign students restrictions

The Trump administration on Tuesday, July 15 decided to rescind a directive that would have prohibited international college students from the U.S. if their colleges offered classes entirely online in the fall semester.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive released last week had banned foreign students from entering or remaining in the country to take fully online course loads.


A number of colleges and universities in the US had already announced plans to offer online-only classes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


Students including Rwandans pursuing their studies in this country had expressed concerns over the guideline calling it “confusing” because “some schools had refused to implement what the US Government had issued.”


Actually, following the new directive, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the U.S. government in federal court, calling the directive "arbitrary and capricious" and seeking to have it reversed and declared unlawful.

Following this, many colleges, universities, municipalities and tech companies expressed their support for the legal challenge in their own court filings.

In Tuesday's session at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the universities were expected to make arguments saying that this rule was burdensome for schools and even dangerous for students.

Instead, Judge Allison Burroughs announced that the schools had reached an agreement with ICE and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. She said the government will withdraw this policy.

"The Court was informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution to the combined temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions," read the court docket. "The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation."

With the new directive cancelled "on a nationwide basis," schools will follow ICE guidance from March that allows flexibility regarding student visa eligibility.

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