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Trump administration abandons new restrictive student visa policy in face of legal actions
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Trump administration abandons new restrictive student visa policy in face of legal actions

US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs announced Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to rescind its controversial new rule that would have prohibited international students taking university courses entirely online during the COVID-19 pandemic from staying in the US.

The parties in Harvard v. US Department of Homeland Security informed the court that they came to an agreement with the government that moots the previous necessity for a temporary injunction. The exact details of the agreement remain unclear. The agreement will, however, mark a return to ICE’s March policy directive. That directive allowed student holders of F-1 and M-1 visas to remain in the US for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis even if they are taking classes exclusively online.

Reuters is also reporting that a DHS official has said that “the details of any future regulation on this issue remain under discussion,” and that “officials are still deciding whether to treat students already in the United States differently than students seeking to enter the country for the first time.” Traditionally, traveling to the US on a student visa to take only online courses has been prohibited.

The policy, announced July 6, had triggered a wave of distress and outrage prompting Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to file a lawsuit, with 17 states, 26 municipalities and many other universities filing amicus briefs or taking similar action. Under the government’s policy, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had also required universities to notify them no later than Wednesday whether they planned to hold classes entirely online this fall.