The White House will rescind visa restrictions on foreign students whose colleges have moved to online instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, ICE announced that foreign students on F1 visas would be required to leave the country if all their classes have been moved online. Foreign students would be able to remain in the U.S. if they attended or transferred to a college where they could complete at least one in-person class.
U.S. district judge Allison D. Burroughs announced on Tuesday that the Trump administration had agreed to back down in a suit over the policy brought by Harvard University and the Massachusets Institute of Technology. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will keep its policy on foreign students put in place early in the coronavirus pandemic, which allows foreign students to remain in the U.S. to study even if their classes have been moved online. Foreign students are typically allowed to take only one online course.
There are roughly one million foreign students currently in the U.S., and many universities rely on these students for their business model.
“If a university…[doesn’t] reopen this semester, there isn’t a reason for a person holding a student visa to be present in the country,” DHS acting deputy director Ken Cuccinelli told CNN when defending the policy last week. Cuccinelli added that the policy could “encourage schools to reopen.”
Universities and grade schools are struggling to reopen campuses because of the pandemic. Even with classes moving online, some universities including Harvard have not reduced tuition.