The Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have rescinded their July 6 policy that would have prevented international students from studying in the United States if they were enrolled in only online classes for their fall term, federal judge Allison D. Burroughs announced at a hearing on Tuesday.
Burroughs made the announcement during the court proceedings of a lawsuit that was jointly filed against the federal government on July 8 by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Harvard Crimson reported. Over 200 universities, including the University of California, followed suit and either joined the Harvard-MIT lawsuit or separately sued the federal government to keep international students in the U.S. that same week.
Under the previously announced guidelines, international students enrolled in universities that planned to offer only online instruction for the fall would have either had to leave the U.S. or transfer to a U.S. university offering in-person instruction. For international students at universities using a hybrid of online and in-person, such as the UC system, they would have to take at least one in-person course or else leave the U.S.
By rolling back the July 6 policy, international students on M-1 and F-1 academic visas will once again be allowed to reside in the U.S. without having to enroll in in-person classes.
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada said in an email to the Nexus that the university is “pleased” that I.C.E “has rescinded its guidance regarding international students and requirements for fall instruction, and is returning to the policies of March 9 and March 13, 2020.”
“We are delighted to continue our rich tradition of welcoming students and scholars from around the world for study and research collaborations,” she continued.
Last Monday’s policy change sent scores of international students into disarray after learning that their time in the U.S. might come to a screeching halt if they could not enroll in an in-person class by the upcoming fall term.
Hundreds of international students from around the country submitted their contact information to the website Support Our International Students — a database of resident students enrolled in-person classes willing to give up their spots — in hopes of finding a spot to remain in the U.S., while others searched on social media in hopes of finding an in-person class.
One of those students was Joel Nerman, a third-year economics major at UC Santa Barbara and an international student from Sweden. Until today, Nerman said the fate of his time in the U.S. was uncertain.
As both an incoming transfer student from Santa Barbara City College and an international student, his dilemma was two-fold: he needed to enroll in an in-person class, but, unlike other UCSB students, he couldn’t pick any fall quarter classes until the transfer orientation in August, he said.
Nerman said he “did not approve” of the July 6 policy because it stripped international students of the same opportunities offered to domestic students — attending college and studying in the U.S.
“If we’re not allowed to be in California while getting our education, we’re being deprived of the whole experience, the whole culture aspect to it, meeting new people, making new connections and just experiencing the palm trees and the beach,” he said. “I feel like it’s unfair.”
But as of today that’s no longer an issue, Nerman said, adding that “I have no intentions on going back home unless I’m forced to go.”