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U.S. Retracts Plan for International Students to Lose Visas if Classes Are Moved Exclusively Online

The Trump administration has rescinded a policy issued last week by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that decreed international students would not be allowed to enter or would be asked to leave the country if their universities opted to offer coursework entirely online this fall. 

Last week’s announcement, which would have levied foreign students with deportation if they did not return to campus for classes in the fall, sent ripples through the higher education community, as many colleges and universities are still trying to discern the safest path forward for student learning this fall. 

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a federal lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Boston last Wednesday seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of this policy. 

Minutes before a federal judge in Boston was to hear arguments on their challenge on Tuesday, the judge, Allison D. Burroughs, announced that the administration had agreed to rescind the policy and allow international students to remain in the country even if they are taking all of their classes online, according to reports by The New York Times.