Recently, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new policy that all but strips F-1 student visas from international students whose schools have gone fully to online instruction in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. There has been widespread outrage about this cruel, unnecessary, and disruptive policy change.
As reported by The New York Times, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology immediately sued to block the order. NBC News reports that California is also suing the Administration in response to its student visa policy. Here, our Los Angeles immigration attorney highlights four things you should know about the student visa order and these lawsuits.
What is Happening With COVID-19 and Student Visas: An Overview
1. Many Colleges and Universities are Going to Online Instruction in the Fall
As the United States fails to control the spread of COVID-19, many colleges and universities are rolling out their plans to go exclusively to online instruction—at least for the upcoming fall semester. For example, both Harvard and MIT are going to web-based classes. A number of California schools are rolling out similar plans. In fact, our state’s two main university systems are set to go mostly to online instruction for fall 2020.
2. Unexpected Modifications to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
On July 6th, the Trump Administration rolled out an unexpected modification to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Directly addressing the temporary move to online instruction, ICE announced that F-1 visa students and M-1 visas students at schools operating fully online may not take a full course load, return to, or remain in the United States.
3. Multiple Stakeholders are Now Suing the Trump Administration
The Trump Administration’s order will cause serious disruption and harm to many hardworking international students. The cruel irony of the entire policy is that the only reason so many colleges and universities are temporarily moving to online instruction is because the Trump Administration has done so poorly in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. While the curve has been “flattened” across much of Europe, the United States is still hitting record highs in new cases.
4. There is Still Hope that the Student Visa Order Will Be Blocked or Withdrawn
It should be emphasized that this is still a developing matter. Not only have multiple lawsuits been filed to block the Trump Administration’s order, but there is some hope that action might be taken to alter or withdraw the policy. To be sure, 138 congresspeople and 38 senators signed a public letter asking for a reversal of the policy. The letter calls out the “cruel, senseless, and xenophobic attempt to use non-citizens as political pawns.” Our law firm will monitor the situation for any new developments.
Call Our Los Angeles, CA Student Visa Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are committed to protecting you and your rights. If you have any questions about student visas, we are available to help. To request a strictly confidential initial consultation, please call us now at (213) 262-2000. We represent international students at colleges and universities throughout Southern California, including UCLA, USC, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, San Diego State, and more.