Two days after US immigration authorities said foreign students at US universities and schools would no longer be eligible to stay in the country if the institutions switch to online-only classes due to COVID-19 pandemic, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have sought the blocking of the order, NDTV reported.
According to the report, Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit at the District Court in Boston on Wednesday (July 08), urging the court to put the order passed by the Trump administration on hold. They said the order was “unlawful”, adding that they relied on the guidance for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students—and international students at institutions across the country—can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” The Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper of the varsity, quoted Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow.
“As a university with a profound commitment to residential education, we hope and intend to resume full in-person instruction as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so. But, until that time comes, we will not stand by to see our international students’ dreams extinguished by a deeply misguided order,” he said.
On July 06, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department announced that it would not issue visas to students who were set to attend their courses online for the fall semester. It added that the US Customs and Border Protection would not allow these students to enter the country.
The immigration agency said that the active students currently in the US enrolled in such programmes “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.
The decision will also adversely impact hundreds of thousands of Indian students in the US. India sent the largest number of students (251,290) to the US after China (478,732) in 2017 and 2018, according to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) ‘SEVIS by the Numbers Report’ 2018. The number increased from 2017 to 2018 by 4,157.