The United States (U.S.) has rescinded its recent immigration policy requiring foreign students to leave the country if all their classes were to be taught online.
U.S. District Judge in Massachusetts, Allison Burroughs, announced this on Tuesday at a court hearing on a suit filed by two higher institutions against the policy.
Burroughs said the government had reached a settlement with the plaintiffs, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to revert to status quo.
The policy reversal comes exactly a week after it was announced and a day before the government’s deadline for universities to submit a change of plans by Wednesday.
On July 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it would begin enforcement of in-person requirements on F-1 and M-1 visas.
It stated that foreign students would not be allowed to remain in the country if their institutions moved classes fully online.
The department said affected students would face “immigration consequences”, including deportation, if they failed to comply.
The rule, according to the agency, applied to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are issued to academic and vocational students, respectively.
The announcement triggered a wave of opposition across the country, with Harvard and MIT being among the first critics to challenge it in court.
Many other lawsuits followed, including from a group of 18 states led by Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey.
New York, California and Washington filed suits in addition to Johns Hopkins University and the University of California public school network.