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US revokes its international students visa policy

July 15, 2020

After a nationwide outrage, the Trump administration has decided to revoke its July 6 rule which temporarily barred international students from staying in US unless they physically attend at least one course.

The July 6 order by the Trump administration was followed by several protests and series of lawsuits filed by several educational institutions, led by the prestigious Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In its notice, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had said all student visa holders, whose university curricula were only offered online, “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences, including but not limited to the initiation of removal proceedings.”

As many as 17 US states and the District of Columbia, along with top American IT companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, joined MIT and Harvard in the US District Court in Massachusetts against the Department of Homeland Security and the ICE in seeking an injunction to revoke the order. In their lawsuit, they said for many international students, remote learning in the countries and communities they come from would impede their studies or be simply impossible. The lawsuit alleged that the new rule would affect the economy of the country by barring thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the US and finding employment in different fields such as science, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, business and finance, and education, and contributing to the overall economy. In a separate filing, companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the directive by the ICE will also disrupt their recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.

“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. They will return to the status quo,” Judge Allison Burroughs, the federal district judge in Boston, said while hearing the lawsuit. Judge Burroughs added that the policy would apply nationwide. “Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace,” she said, referring to the agreement between the US government and MIT and Harvard.

The announcement has come as a big relief to international students, including those from India. According to a recent report of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), 1,94,556 Indian students were enrolled in various institutions in the US in January.

Congressman Brad Scneider said this is a great win for international students, colleges and common sense. He tweeted: “The administration needs to give us a plan to tackle our public health crisis – it can’t be recklessly creating rules one day and rescinding them the next.”

Last week, more than 136 congressmen and 30 senators wrote to the Trump administration to rescind its order on international students visa policy. Congressman Mikie Sherrill shared in his tweet: “Taking online classes shouldn’t force international students out of our country.”

Source: Indian Express

Read: New US visa rule puts Indian students into uncertainty

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