A class action lawsuits has been filed by seven international graduate students in California against US President Donald Trump.
Theu have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Trump administration from enforcing guidelines that would bar them from remaining in the country if they enroll only in online courses this fall.
On Wednesday, two of America’s most prestigious universities, Harvard and M.I.T., have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over his new policy that seeks to deport international students whose course is converted to online learning.
The lawsuit seeks to block the directive, arguing it violates the Administrative Procedures Act. The universities argue that ICE’s decision not to provide an exemption for online-only courses puts them in an “untenable situation” of either proceeding with their plans to operate fully or largely online or attempt to provide in-person learning.
On Monday, Harvard University condemned the new visa policy that seeks to deport foreign students whose programme are converted to online learning.
Harvard’s Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow told Bloomberg that:
“The visa rules disclosed this week by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency impose a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem, giving international students, particularly those in online programs, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools.”
“This guidance undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic,” he said.
According to the policy, schools such as Harvard are not obliged to return school fees to students because they could “attend” classes virtually—in their home country.
See the statement below:
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications Monday to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.
Temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester include:
- Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
- Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
- Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.
Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load. Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.
Due to COVID-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.F-1 nonimmigrant students pursue academic coursework and M-1 nonimmigrant students pursue vocational coursework while studying in the United States.