Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have shed the American government over new immigration rules that bar foreign students from living in the country while having online courses.
Both universities filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over new rules barring international students from living in the country while taking online courses, according to the Harvard Crimson.
Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow told the Crimson that the suit seeks an order to temporarily restrain the Homeland Security and ICE from enforcing the federal guidelines which state that removal proceedings could be initiated for international students who refuse to transfer to a school offering in-person classes.
“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Monday.
“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.”
Both universities had last week announced that COVID-19 restrictions will make them resort to having more online courses during the Fall Semester.
Harvard had announced on Monday that it will allow only 40% of its undergraduate students to return to campus this fall amid the global pandemic.
MIT on its part said that seniors will be the only students invited back to campus this fall. Other students can apply for “special consideration housing” on a case-by-case basis, including for visa issues.
In the new rules by the ICE, it said “students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”
Students who are enrolled in such programs “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction,” according to federal immigration authorities.
Experts have questioned the decision of the American government saying the nation is attempting to reduce its global talent base, despite contributing almost $41bn to the American between 2018/2019 academic year.
Trump had criticised Harvard University on Tuesday for its decision to close school for the year, and moving classes online.
“I see where Harvard announced that they’re closing for the season or for the year,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, you want to know the truth. But I noticed that today, and probably others are doing that.
“That’s called the easy way out,” Trump continued. “I don’t know if people are helping them. I guess their endowment is plenty big; they don’t have a problem with that. But that’s not what we want to do.”