(AmericanPoliticalDaily.com)- It seems after all that foreign students will be allowed to keep their visas, even if they take only online classes this fall.
After instituting what was a surprising decision to many only weeks ago, the Trump administration has done an about-face. It told a Boston federal judge that it would be dropping a policy it just instituted that would have rescinded the visas of international students if they planned to only take online courses in the fall.
If their college or university was only offering online courses, with no in-person courses, the administration had recommended that international students consider transferring to another institution that did — or risk losing their visa.
Earlier this week, a number of states and Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s policy. A separate suit was brought by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, challenging the rule that was issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In a court filing with U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs, the Trump administration agreed to “return to the status quo.” This means that international students will be able to remain in the United States even if they take all their classes online in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
California was also prepared to fight the ruling in court, as the state is home to a number of international students — almost 162,000 last year. The state’s largest public university system also announced earlier this summer that it would be holding no in-person classes in the fall.
Officials from the White House and ICE haven’t commented on the decision to rescind their rule as of yet.
Before the court filing this week, international students were very concerned with what they were going to do. One cited by the Los Angeles Times was Tuzo Mulunda, a student from Kenya who is a sophomore at Harvard. She said:
“If you really want me to go, how am I supposed to go? My country is still locked down right now. I can’t leave even if I wanted to. How is that even enforceable?
“Some people live in places where there’s horrible internet connection. So the only hope of continuing with online classes was to stay here. And if that’s out of the window, then they’re literally being forced to take a year off.”
Those who were about to fight the ruling were happy with the decision to overturn it. Xavier Becerra, the attorney general for California, said:
“The Trump administration appears to have seen the harm of its July 6 directive, but it shouldn’t take lawsuits and widespread outcry for them to do their job.”
Others, though, were not so happy with the decision. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies tweeted that “Sir Donald … bravely turned his tail and fled.”
In a separate interview, he said:
“It’s not that big an issue. It’s one example of the predominance of the weak-borders faction in the White House. If Harvard wants to educate foreign students online exclusively, why do they need to come here?”