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Trump Administration Drops Plans To Deport Foreign Online Students

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The Trump administration has agreed in court not to enforce its rule to deport college students from other countries taking online classes due to the coronavirus pandemic for the fall 2020 semester.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE had announced modifications last week to temporary exemptions for foreign students under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

The new rule announced on July 6 does not allow foreign students to stay in the United States this fall semester if they are taking classes online only. They faced deportation unless they switch to a course with in-person tuition.

Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs were advised to leave the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.

ICE required universities to certify within 10 days whether they will be fully open, operate on a hybrid model or offer online-only classes.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University challenged the decision at District Court for Massachusetts.

Judge Allison Burroughs said the government agreed to rescind the change in rule and return to the status quo.

It reinstates a policy that ICE implemented in March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which allows non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students to take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

The State Department issues F-1 and M-1 visas for academic and vocational students from abroad.

In fiscal 2019, more than 388,000 F visas and nearly 10,000 M visas were issued.

The reversal of the policy, which was seen as an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure schools into opening in the fall, had led to dozens of lawsuits and opposition from universities.

If the new amendment in temporary exemptions was implemented, it could have affected large numbers of foreign students who travel to the U.S. to study every year.

Many U.S. universities are moving classes online due to the pandemic.

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