The announcement came from US District Court Judge Burroughs during an online hearing for a case brought against the government by Harvard and MIT.
“ This result is about the transformational power of our collective action“
The government has agreed to rescind the policy directive from July 6 and the FAQs released the following day, as well as return to the status quo outlined in the March 9 policy directive and its March 13 addendum.
“We are glad that our institutions and students will now have the flexibility needed going into a very tough and uncertain fall semester,” Sarah Spreitzer, director department of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education told The PIE News.
ICE had previously claimed that having international students studying online in the country posed a national security threat.
“Continuing to permit international students who have a valid F-1 or M-1 visa and are enrolled or entering the US to begin a full-time course of study in an academic program that is conducted online or may shift to remote instruction during the semester is the sensible and humane thing to do,” said American Council on Education president, Ted Mitchell.
“It helps ensure that the US remains the destination of choice for the world’s most talented students and scholars, with all of the benefits that brings.”
Other major international education organisations have responded positively to the news but also encouraged a cautious response, noting that other barriers to international students coming to the US remain.
“This is an extremely significant outcome for international students and colleges. And, we are grateful to ICE and DHS for listening,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.
“But, make no mistake, this result is about the transformational power of our collective action and the swift, visible outrage of many – including presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities from across the country. The fight is not yet over,” she continued.
“The threats to immigrants and international students are still looming. We need to continue this fight for international students, their ability to come to the US to learn, study and have the opportunity to work, innovate and contribute to our nation.”
Some were more critical of the government, with the American Civil Liberties Union stating that its “anti-immigrant agenda knows no bounds”, while others took to social media to air their views.
Good news for all American universities, but it is hard to celebrate. Our international students, who trusted us for their education, did not need to go through the distress of this nonsensical #StudentBan mess. https://t.co/kNFkLcg2MY
— Elisa Tomat (@elisatomat) July 14, 2020
“This victory belongs to those who said enough. We are grateful to students and institutions, including Harvard, MIT, and so many others who defended their students and classmates — in the courts, in the streets, and through policy shifts,” said Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy.
“Thankfully, this attack on students is over. But the administration will undoubtedly continue in its failure to protect the people in America by using the pandemic for its hateful agenda to dismantle our immigration system, rather than creating a coordinated response for the future of our nation.
“These actions continue to do one thing: harm us all. But today, we are reminded that victories are possible — our fight continues.”
Andrew Ullman, co-founder of University Bridge, said they were “thrilled” to learn of the repeal.
It was especially heartwarming to see American people, businesses and the US higher education sector come together to fight—and defeat—these particularly cruel proposed policies,” he added.
Marty Bennett of SMIE Consulting called the move a “much needed boost for US international educators after three and a half years of rulings from this administration that continually drained our morale and damaged the USA’s reputation as a welcoming destination for international students”.
“Today, we are reminded that victories are possible — our fight continues”
“Two of the main related unanswered questions are whether this ruling – allowing online education for international students in the US – would apply to incoming new international students and whether those who are finishing degrees abroad would still be eligible for OPT,” he added.
“The former may be a moot point as only a fraction of students that might normally come in new this fall will be able to get visas in time. In China, for example, US embassy and consulate staff aren’t even allowed back in the country there yet, India is a way off reopening as well.”
Additional reporting by Will Nott