Harvard and MIT sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over ICE’s announcement that international students cannot remain in the US if their course is run online-only.
The top universities cited “health and safety of students, instructors, administrative officers, and others on college campuses” as their ground for the lawsuit.
The move to send international students home during a pandemic has been highly criticized by the student community, immigration advocates, and college administrations.
Stanford stands in full support of our international community, and encourages the reversal of a new federal visa policy that would prohibit nonimmigrant students from staying in the country if they are taking all of their courses online in the fall. https://t.co/XfHci6KeuY
— Stanford University (@Stanford) July 9, 2020
Many colleges and universities voiced their concerns against the Trump administration’s move, which will affect over a million international students.
In the lawsuit, MIT and Harvard ask the federal court to declare the new guidance unlawful and prevent ICE and DHS from enforcing it on any grounds. Other top colleges including Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Cornell backed the lawsuit.
What This Policy Means for International Students
The latest proposed policy means that international students currently enrolled in programs or schools that are completely online for the fall semester will have to return to their native country.
These international students can stay in the United States only if they transfer to a school that offers “in-person instruction” or opt for “medical leave.”
Given that social distancing has proven effective to put in check the number of infections, many schools choose for a completely online class framework or hybrid models to ensure student safety.