A nonpartisan education and immigration advocacy group applauded the Trump administration for withdrawing a proposal to remove foreign students who are only enrolled in online classes.
The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration is grateful and relieved the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have decided to cancel plans to deport international students who only study online.
The July 6 directive stated students who attend school entirely online, and refuse to enroll in face-to-face learning, will no longer be allowed to pursue a fully online course load and have to leave the United States.
“The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” ICE said in a statement. “Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
However, the government withdrew the new rule after several educational institutions expressed concern about the guidance, and its severe impact on their livelihoods, because a significant portion of their revenue comes from international students.
“We are grateful to ICE and DHS for listening,” Presidents’ Alliance Executive Director Miriam Feldblum said in a statement. “This is an extremely significant outcome for international students and colleges.”
The alliance described the outlook for the national education system as “cautiously optimistic” and expressed gratitude for President Donald Trump and his administration’s lenience on the matter.
“We are deeply indebted to the quick action and leadership of the 180 institutions that joined the Presidents’ Alliance amicus brief in support of Harvard’s and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s swift legal challenge to the July 6th guidance, and the dozens more colleges and universities that were eager to join our next briefs,” Feldblum said.
The alliance now plans to continue holding talks with the Trump administration to help foster a better understanding between educators and bureaucrats.
“This result is about the transformational power of our collective action and the swift, visible outrage of many—including presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities from across the country,” she said. “The threats to immigrants and international students are still looming. We need to continue this fight for international students, their ability to come to the U.S. to learn, study, and have the opportunity to work, innovate, and contribute to our nation.”