Trump administration drop softens stance on foreign students policy

The Trump administration dropped plans to deport foreign students whose courses moved fully online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The turnabout came just one week after the policy was announced. At least 17 US states and over 200 universities sued the government over the plan.

District Judge Allison Burroughs in Massachusetts said the parties have come to a settlement.

The agreement reinstates a policy implemented in March, amid the virus outbreak, which allows international students to attend their classes virtually if necessary and remain legally in the country on student visas, according to the New York Times.

At least a million foreign students go to the United States for studies. The foreign student community is a big revenue to many United States Universities. International students contributed US$ 44.7 billion to the U.S. economy for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) framed new guidelines on Monday last week.

ICE gave students two options: 1) Leave the country if their school’s classes in fall would be completely taught online. 2) Transfer to another school with in-person instruction. If the conditions are not met ICE has threatened deportation.

ICE guidance applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019.

President Donald Trump has imposed a series of new restrictions for people seeking to enter the States. Just in June, Trump suspended the admission of asylum seekers at the southern border with Mexico and also suspended work visas for foreigners.