In an article for Education Dive, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson discussed the potential for new rules to prohibit international students who are not currently in the United States from entering the country to take virtual course loads this fall. On July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a surprise directive rescinding an earlier waiver that allowed international students in the country on an education visa to stay in the United States even if all of their courses were provided on-line. This directive would have required thousands of international students to abruptly leave the United States. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) quickly filed suit to ensure the directive would not go into effect, and the Trump administration ultimately reversed the policy.
Still, it is widely rumored that a new directive will be issued limiting international students’ ability to remain in the country if schools opt for virtual learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, Audrey notes that MIT and Harvard have not dropped their lawsuit completely, leaving open the possibility they could act quickly to use it as a vehicle for another legal challenge in response to a new rule from the administration.
Audrey added her doubts that federal officials would even be able to move ahead with a regulation in time for the start of the academic year. Officials will likely want to wait to “do it correctly this time,” she said, which would include providing the required amount of time for the public to comment on a rule.
The full article, “Colleges Brace for Another Attempt at Enrollment Limits on Foreign Students” was published by Education Dive on July 15 and is available online.