SWITZERLAND, JULY 15 – The United States government on Tuesday rescinded its controversial decision to deny visas to foreign students taking courses online due to coronavirus pandemic.
Harvard and MIT, with the support of several institutions, had taken legal action against the move that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on July 6.
In a brief hearing, Judge Allison Burroughs said, “The government has agreed to rescind the decision as well as any implementation of the directive.”
Earlier this month, Harvard and MIT had asked the court to stymie the order announced by ICE that students must leave the country if their classes are only online, or transfer to a school offering in-person tuition.
The measure was seen as a move by President Donald Trump administration to put pressure on educational institutions that are adopting a cautious approach to reopening amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In their lawsuits, the universities stated that the order would harm students “immensely,” both personally and financially.
The order was described as “arbitrary and capricious,” adding that it threw US higher education “into chaos” as over one million international students currently reside in the US.
Expressing its joy over the development, the University of Southern California in a statement said, “We are thrilled that the government backed down.
“Our international students are a vital part of the USC community, and they deserve the right to continue their education without risk of deportation.”
Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester but Harvard has said all its classes for the 2020-21 academic year will be conducted online “with rare exceptions.”
The court, however, did not provide any reason for the Trump administration’s flip, and the president did not immediately react on Tuesday.