About face: Trump administration reverses course on student visa rule

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The Trump administration has withdrawn its new rule that threatened to bar hundreds of thousands of international students from studying in the United States, following a lawsuit filed yesterday by Attorney General Mark R. Herring and a coalition of 18 attorneys general.

Currently more than 13,500 international students study at Virginia’s colleges and universities.

“Today’s win is great news for Virginia’s schools, our students, and our communities, and stands as a reminder that when you stand up to bullies, they tend to back down,” Herring said. “The Trump administration’s plan to deport international students was illegal from the start and I’m really proud that we were able to stop it from ever going into effect. Virginia’s college campus communities are made so much stronger by the presence and contributions of international students and I am so glad they will be able to study at our great colleges and universities this fall.”

In a hearing held this afternoon, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that they would rescind their new directive and return to guidance that they issued in March that recognized the COVID-19 public health emergency, provided flexibility for schools, and allowed international students with F-1 and M-1 visas to take classes online for the duration of the emergency.

On July 6, ICE announced that international students can no longer live in the United States and take all of their classes online during the pandemic, upending months of careful planning by colleges and universities to limit in-person instruction in favor of remote learning and adapt their coursework for the fall semester, and leaving thousands of students with no other choice but to leave the country.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against DHS and ICE, challenged what the attorneys general called the federal government’s “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”

With the lawsuit, the coalition sought an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.


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