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Trump administration rescinds international students visa policy

As many as 17 U.S. states along with top American IT companies joined MIT and Harvard in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts seeking an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect

The Trump administration has agreed to rescind its July 6 rule, which temporarily bared international students from staying in the United States unless they attend at least one in-person course, a federal district court judge said on Tuesday.

The U-turn by the Trump administration comes following a nationwide outrage against its July 6 order and a series of lawsuits filed by a large number of educational institutions, led by the prestigious Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), seeking a permanent injunctive relief to bar the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing the federal guidelines barring international students attending colleges and universities offering only online courses from staying in the country.

As many as 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, along with top American IT companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, joined MIT and Harvard in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the DHS and the ICE in seeking an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.

“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. They will return to the status quo,” Judge Allison Burroughs, the federal district judge in Boston, said in a surprise statement at the top of the hearing on the lawsuit.

The announcement comes as a big relief to international students, including those from India. In the 2018-2019 academic year, there were over 10 lakh international students in the U.S. According to a recent report of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), 1,94,556 Indian students were enrolled in various academic institutions in the US in January.

‘Great win for international students’

Judge Burroughs said the policy would apply nationwide. “Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace,” she said, referring to the agreement between the U.S. government and MIT and Harvard.

Congressman Brad Scneider said this is a great win for international students, colleges and common sense.“The Administration needs to give us a plan to tackle our public health crisis – it can’t be recklessly creating rules one day and rescinding them the next,” he said in a tweet.

Last week, more than 136 Congressmen and 30 senators wrote to the Trump administration to rescind its order on international students. “This is a major victory for the students, organisers and institutions of higher education in the #MA7 and all across the country that stood up and fought back against this racist and xenophobic rule,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

“Taking online classes shouldn’t force international students out of our country,” Congressman Mikie Sherrill said in a tweet.

In its July 6 notice, the ICE had said all student visa holders, whose university curricula were only offered online, “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,” it had said.

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