U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has agreed to rescind a policy that would have barred foreign students on F or M visas from remaining in the country if they attended universities that only offered online courses in the fall.

Key points:

  • In March, ICE adopted temporary measures that allowed foreign students to take more online courses than normally permitted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In July, ICE announced that it would rescind the temporary measures and force students at schools that only offered online classes to depart the U.S. or find alternatives, such as transferring to a school with in-person courses. Students at universities that offered a mix of online and in-person classes would have been required to take at least one in-person class.
  • States and universities filed lawsuits challenging the new policy. At a hearing Tuesday in a case filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Judge Allison Burroughs announced that the universities and the government had reached a settlement under which ICE will not implement the July guidance, and will return to the policy it announced in March.

Analysis & Comments: The rescission of the policy ICE announced last week means that international students will continue to be afforded measures put in place in March that allow them to take more online classes than normal this fall. These measures will apply nationwide until further notice. BAL is closely monitoring for any additional policy changes relating to international students and will continue to provide updates on developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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