Foreign students in the United States: Trump administration drops expulsion plans

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Havard University in Massachusetts moved all of its classes online during the pandemic


The government of US President Donald Trump has abandoned plans to expel international students whose courses are fully online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The reversal occurs only a week after the announcement of the policy.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have sued the government for the plan.

District Judge Allison Burroughs of Massachusetts said the parties had reached a settlement.

The agreement restores a policy implemented in March, amid the virus epidemic, which allows international students to attend their classes virtually if necessary and stay legally in the country on student visas, according to the New York Times.

Large numbers of foreign students travel to the United States to study each year and are an important source of income for universities.

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Harvard recently announced that due to concerns over the spread of the virus, classes will be offered online when students return for the new academic year. MIT, like a number of other educational institutions, said it would also continue to use virtual tuition fees.

What did politics say?

Last week, international students were told that they would not be allowed to stay in the United States this fall unless they switched to a course with in-person courses.

Those who returned to their country of origin at the end of their term in March – as the coronavirus crisis escalated – were told that they would not be allowed to return if their classes had since moved online.

  • Foreign students in the United States fear for the future

The US Immigration and Customs Agency (ICE) has said that people could be deported if they did not follow the rules.

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Media captionAmerican student visas: “We are at the mercy of the government”

The student and exchange visitor program, which is managed by the ICE, initially allowed international students to continue their spring and summer 2020 courses online while staying in the country.

But on July 6, the agency said that foreign students who failed to attend classes in person could face “immigration consequences, including, but not limited to, opening a removal procedure ”.

How have universities responded?

Two days later, Harvard and MIT filed the first of several lawsuits to overturn the directive, calling it “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion.”

Dozens of other universities have signed a brief to support the action.

“True motivation”, argued the 59 universities in their supporting brief, “has nothing to do with ensuring that students engage in a” full curriculum “or with the protection of the integrity of the student visa program. . is to encourage the reopening of schools. ”

Attorneys general of at least 18 states, including Massachusetts and California, also sued.

President Trump has lobbied for university and school students to return to class in the new term. He considers the reopening as an indicator of recovery after months of upheaval, which could be beneficial in his candidacy for reelection in November.

However, many educators are concerned about the well-being of students and wish to continue practicing social isolation while the epidemic continues.

Whis have visas affected?

The policy applied to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas for university and professional students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019, according to agency data.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contributed $ 45 billion (£ 36 billion) to the country’s economy in 2018.

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