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International Students can now Rest Easy as US Immigration Drops Online-Only Restriction

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 22: A general view of Harvard University campus is seen on April 22, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard has fallen under criticism after saying it would keep the $8.6 million in stimulus funding the university received from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The government of the United States has withdrawn the latest rules from DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that would require international students to leave the U.S. or transfer schools if their institution holds only online classes in the fall.

A federal judge, Allison D. Burroughs announced that they will rescind the policy in a Tuesday hearing regarding a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the ruling, The Harvard Crimson reported.

Since the agencies announced the policy, it created significant issues for international students. The issues included:

  • International students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas wouldn’t remain in the U.S. or legally enter the U.S. if their studies are entirely online.

  • Students whose schools are online-only should “[transfer] to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”

  • Students at schools offering a mixture of in-person and online learning will be permitted to take some online courses and remain in the country, though the school must certify “that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester.”

    Check out here to learn more about the recent guidelines.

Harvard University and MIT earlier this month filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the rules. Hundreds of higher education institutions and associations across the U.S. also joined them in opposing the new policies.

The rule issued July 6, students would have needed to maintain at least one in-person class during the fall semester. If their institution moved to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, international students would have been required to transfer to another institution offering in-person classes or leave the U.S.

But according to Judge Burroughs, both parties agreed to a resolution less than 5 minutes into the hearing, and now, physical classes or not, international students will be able to remain in or enter the United States.

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