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17 states are suing the Trump administration for new guidelines for student visas

17 states and Washington, DC have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s policy to prevent international students taking online courses from staying in the United States.

The ICE guidelines announced on July 6 stipulated that international students, in order to stay in the country in the fall semester 2020, must be enrolled in personal classes at their schools or “subject to immigration consequences, including but not limited to”. the initiation of removal procedures. “In the meantime, students staying in their own country can only take distance learning and maintain their“ active status ”if their school only offers distance learning.

Under the previous policy, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allowed international students to take online courses without compromising their visa status due to the unusual circumstances of the COVID-1

9 pandemic. Prior to the July 6 announcement, there was no indication that the fall semester 2020 would not be subject to the same policy.

“The directive was arbitrary and capricious,” the lawsuit said, “because it was not a reason to reverse previous policies … not taking into account the substantial trust interests of universities and foreign students and the harm this sudden reversal will cause . ” . ”

The applicant countries – including Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin – claim that they will suffer. irreparable harm ”if the court does not override the rule.

In particular, the plaintiffs claim that the rule imposes a high financial and administrative burden on colleges and universities. The lawsuit points out that schools would have to reevaluate the plans they had already made for the coming year and would lose substantial revenue from international students who typically pay extra-state fees and receive no financial support. They also argue that the ICE directive would interfere with the reopening guidelines already issued by state governments and that the reopening pressure would make it difficult for these governments to protect their communities.

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to repeal the directive nationwide. “The directive has confused colleges and universities across the country – and our students and potential students as well,” the action said.

The lawsuit includes statements from more than 40 schools affected by the new regulation, including the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Yale, the University of Connecticut and Tufts University.

Before the ICE announcement, there were a large number of universities – just under a third of the universities per The Chronicle of higher education – – planned to offer a kind of hybrid model for online and personal lessons. A smaller number had announced plans to offer online tuition only, including Harvard, which was announced shortly before the ICE directive. Harvard and MIT have previously filed a preliminary injunction with the Boston District Court.

ICE declined to comment on this story and referred to the sensitivity of pending litigation.

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