Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed to repeal regulations that restrict international students from taking a full online course load while residing in the U.S.
The rescinded regulations were announced by federal Judge Allison Burroughs during a lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the Associated Press.
The decision comes after the July 6 federal guidelines that stated F-1 and M-1 visa students will not be allowed to enter or remain in the United States if all university classes were moved online.
The announcement sparked an uproar of opposition from institutions across the country, including Harvard and MIT, who led the lawsuit against the federal government. The University of Michigan, along with several other universities and colleges, have since joined the lawsuit as a friend of the court.
Rackham Student Government also filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts District Court in the lawsuit against the ICE restrictions on Monday morning along with 15 other student government bodies.
Since the federal government announced the new policies, international students were faced with difficult and unprecedented challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The policies also forced Universities to reconsider their fall plans to ensure international students could still attend.
The Harvard-MIT lawsuit alleges the DHS and ICE policies are “arbitrary and capricious” in removing emergency COVID-19 exceptions for F-1 students looking to take online courses. This was in direct contradiction with the March 13 released guidelines that protect student visas for those who attend institutions that have temporarily switched to remote learning for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.