July 27, 2020

Restrictions for International Students

Trump Administration Revokes Restrictions for International Students

The Trump Administration announced it was reversing its policy banning international students who were taking classes online from staying in the United States. Previously, the Administration stated if a school planned to be online-only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the international students at that university would have to either leave the United States or transfer to a school that is holding in-person classes. The repeal of the policy comes as the Administration received severe backlash.

Distinguished universities, states, and tech giants, such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, sued the Trump Administration over the policy. "The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others," Harvard University President Larry Bacow said.

The repeal of the policy is met with celebration among many. Rice University’s President, David Leebron, was delighted with the decision, stating "We thought the original rules that were suggested were cruel and misguided and didn't serve our universities, didn't serve our students and frankly didn't serve our country.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced it was "pleased that the Department of Homeland Security rescinded its ill-conceived policy regarding international students."

The Trump administration declared in court filings that its now-recanted plans offered schools flexibility to restart their operations while balancing public health concerns and national security interests. The Administration also argued its plans were only plans, and would not carry the weight of law until temporary regulations were officially created. “A solely online program of study provides a nonimmigrant student with enormous flexibility to be present anywhere in the United States for up to an entire academic term, whether that location has been reported to the government, which raises significant national security concerns,” government attorneys argued in court filings.

For now, the new ruling will allow the 1 million international students who studied in the United States during last year’s school term to continue to study in the United States.