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States sues Trump administration over new international student visa guidelines

Seventeen states and Washington, DC have recently filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s new students policy that would prevent international students who are taking online courses from remaining in the US.

ICE’s guidelines, announced on July 6th, stated that in order to remain in the country for the fall 2020 semester, international students must be enrolled in in-person classes at their schools or be subject to immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal procedures.

Meanwhile, students who remain in their own countries would only be permitted to take remote classes and maintain their Active status if their school will only be offering remote classes.

Under the previous policy, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allowed international students to take online classes without risking their visa status due to the unusual circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the July 6th announcement, there was no indication that the fall 2020 semester would not be subject to the same policy.

“The Directive was arbitrary and capricious,” the lawsuit reads, “because it failed to offer a reason for its reversal of prior policy … failed to consider the substantial reliance interests of universities and foreign students and the harm this abrupt reversal will cause.”

The plaintiff states — which include Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin — claim that they will suffer irreparable harm if the court doesn’t vacate the rule.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to vacate the directive nationwide. The Directive has thrown colleges and universities across the country into confusion — and our students and prospective students as well, the action reads.

The suit includes declarations from more than 40 schools impacted by the new rule, including the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Yale, the University of Connecticut, and Tufts University.

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