Washington: Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Wednesday sued the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over the latest guidelines barring foreign students on F-1 visas from continuing their stay in the USA if classes completely go online in the coming season.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced its plan to allow a mixture of both in-person and some online coursework to meet the requirements for nonimmigrant students. The department said that the temporary accommodation provides “greater flexibility” for nonimmigrant students to continue their education in the United States. The guidelines will force a lot of foreign students out of the country and will prove to be a major hindrance, experts said.
MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement that the ruling has potentially serious implications for its international students and those enrolled at institutions across the country. MIT and Harvard jointly filed suit against ICE and the US Department of Homeland Security in federal court in Massachusetts in which they asked the court to prevent them from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it null and void.
Universities slam move
The guidelines have provoked a backlash from universities across the U.S. who say international students have an important place in their communities. Many schools have also come to depend on tuition revenue from international students, who typically pay a much higher tuition rate.
It creates an urgent dilemma for thousands of foreign students who were left stranded in the U.S. last spring after the coronavirus pandemic forced their schools to move online. Those attending schools that are staying online must “depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction,” according to the guidance.