White House drops rule forcing foreign students to take in-person classes

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President Donald Trump’s administration agreed Tuesday to rescind its controversial rule barring international students from living in the USA while taking fall classes online, a sharp reversal after the White House faced a slew of lawsuits challenging the policy.

A Massachusetts judge announced the decision during a federal court hearing in a case filed last week by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Judge Allison Burroughs said the universities’ request for the court to block the rule was moot because the government agreed to rescind the policy.

Monday, 18 state attorneys general sued the Department of Homeland Security over the rule, which would have forced foreign students to leave or face deportation if they were enrolled in only online classes this fall, when experts fear expanded outbreaks of COVID-19 cases.

The court said the Trump administration agreed to revert to a previous rule, implemented in March, when the coronavirus pandemic caused shutdowns across the country. Under that policy, international students were allowed to attend all classes online during the pandemic.

Some universities plan to offer classes entirely online this fall because of concerns that college campuses could create coronavirus hot spots and add to the country’s caseload. The new rule,issued July 6 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, would have been devastating for students and universities alike.

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