Eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities has led the Trump administration to rescind a rule that requires international students to take in-person classes, or be forced to leave the country.
The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students on temporary visas who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall considering the policy.
Harvard and MIT were the first to contest the policy, but at least seven other federal suits had been filed by universities and states opposing the rule.
Under the policy, international students would not have been issued new visas if their schools were planning to provide all online classes. Students already in the U.S. would have faced deportation if they did not transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.
The policy faced backlash from higher education institutions, sparking petitions and court briefs supporting the challenge.
Temple University did not officially file a suit, but tweeted their stance in support of international students after the rule was put into place.
“Our message to our international students continues to be loud and clear: #YouAreWelcomeHere”
Immigration officials said the rule was consistent with existing law barring international students from taking classes entirely online. Federal officials said they were providing leniency by allowing students to keep their visas even if they study online from abroad.
Temple Update’s Madison Seitchik and Jake Zebley in addition to the Associated Press’ Collin Binkley contributed to this story.