DHS Rescinds Foreign Visa Rule
July 14, 2020 at 3:00 p.m., in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts in a hearing involving litigation filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging DHS’s July 6, 2020, international student guidance, DHS has agreed to fully rescind the July 6, 2020, ICE guidance and the July 7, 2020, Frequently Asked Questions, and rescind all implementing guidance. The status quo based upon the agency’s March 13, 2020 guidance will remain in force.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) instituted a temporary exemption regarding online study policy for the 2020 spring and summer semesters. This policy permits F-1 and M-1 foreign students to take more online courses than normally allowed for purposes of maintaining a full course of study to maintain their non-immigrant student visa status during the COVID-19 emergency. Then, on July 6, 2020 ICE announced a change in policy for the fall 2020 semester: “Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The US 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 US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures…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… Students attending schools adopting a hybrid-model…will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online…” Harvard and MIT petitioned the federal court for a temporary restraining order pausing the enforcement of this policy. They were joined by fifty-nine more schools which filed an amicus brief. The Trump administration agreed to rescind these rules today.