United States President Donald Trump

E-Learning: Why US reverses new visa policy for international students

* Global tech giants Microsoft, Google, Facebook, others join lawsuit to block ICE guidance

*Case not necessarily over yet, but schools can resume planning for fall semester

*We’ll seek judicial relief immediately to protect our international students ─Harvard President

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Following intense pressure on the Donald Trump Administration by education stakeholders to rescind the fresh visa policy for foreign students, the United States (US) has reversed its July 6, 2020, policy on international student visas after a high-profile confrontation with Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and hundreds of other colleges.

The standoff resulting from the unpopular visa regime could have sent thousands of students back to their home countries and left schools scrambling to plan for the fall, reports Bloomberg.

US District Judge Allison Burroughs announced at an online hearing Tuesday, July 14 that the government agreed to rescind the latest requirement that transnational students take at least one in-person class, even amid the resurgent Coronavirus pandemic and as colleges prepare online-only coursework, report said.

Burroughs, however, disclosed that the case is not closed, raising questions about the nature of the agreement and whether US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had abandoned its position or was retreating and regrouping to fight another day.

Harvard University (l) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States

Theresa Cardinal Brown, Director of Immigration and Cross-Border Policy at United States Bipartisan Policy Center, declared: “I don’t think this is necessarily over. I guarantee you, they’re probably saying, OK, well, we’ll do something slightly different or maybe we’ll just apply it to people who haven’t arrived yet.

“Maybe the President issues an executive order ─it comes from the White House this time rather than from an agency.”

At the hearing, which was attended by hundreds of journalists and others but lasted only minutes, the judge asked Assistant US Attorney Rayford Farquhar if she had described the case’s resolution correctly.

“That is correct, your honor, no change,” he replied

“The motion is mooted,” Burroughs declared, referring to Harvard and MIT’s request to put a freeze on the new policy while the two sides continued to battle.

“The hearing will be adjourned.”

“The case will remain open on my docket pending further motion practice from the parties.”

Neither ICE nor the White House responded to e-mails seeking comment on the outcome, noted the report.

It is recalled that the hearing followed a separate lawsuit by 17 states and a dozen multi-party “friend of the court” briefs filed in support of the schools from universities, trade groups and some of the country’s biggest tech companies.

In the end, the government agreed to rescind the July 6 directive, the question-and-answer document it issued the next day and any implementation of the new guidance, returning to a March 9 policy permitting the students to take online-only classes during the health crisis.

Schools can now resume planning for the fall semester, said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 colleges and trade groups.

Hartle said: “Colleges and universities can get back to the business of reopening higher education.

“Their education plans for the fall can continue unabated. This is unreservedly good news.”

The deal averts a chaotic spell for the thousands of international students who have been stuck in the U.S. pending a resolution and means schools won’t have to find workarounds so international students can stay, he said.

Lawrence Bacow, Harvard’s President, in a statement called Tuesday’s reversal a significant victory for US colleges.

“While the government may attempt to issue a new directive, our legal arguments remain strong and the court has retained jurisdiction, which would allow us to seek judicial relief immediately to protect our international students.”

Meanwhile, global tech companies have joined the suit to block ICE guidance affecting international students seeking degrees in the US.

It was learnt that more than a dozen tech companies decried the latest policy threatens to harm their business.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and several other tech companies have joined a lawsuit filed last week by officials from Harvard and MIT.

“These students contribute substantially to the U.S. economy when they are resident in the United States,” said the tech giants in a brief Monday, July 14.

Under guidelines the Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued last week, the government would not allow foreign students whose universities transition to online-only courses to remain in the United States this fall semester.

It was gathered that the students who don’t comply with the rule change risk deportation back to their countries.

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