July 15, 2020 (WASHINGTON INSIDER ALERT) - On July 14, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it is rescinding its July 6 guidance that would have prohibited international students attending schools operating entirely online from taking a full online course load while remaining in the United States. ICE’s rescission means that schools and international students will continue to benefit from ICE’s March 2020 guidance, which permitted F and M students to take more online courses than normally allowed for purposes of maintaining a full course of study to maintain their F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant status.
ICE’s announcement came during a virtual hearing before Federal District Judge Allison Burroughs who is presiding over Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s lawsuit seeking to block the directive from going into effect. Just the day before, CUPA-HR joined with ACE and 69 other higher education associations to file an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the “directive ignores the critical contributions of international students” and “fails to consider the unique, institution-specific challenges facing American colleges and universities."
ICE’s policy change had drawn condemnation from a wide array of stakeholders and several other legal challenges had been filed to stop implementation of the policy.