Harvard, MIT sue US Immigration authorities over mandating in-person classes for foreign students
New York : Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday sued the US immigration department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after new guidelines were announced where in-person classes have been made mandatory for foreign students in order to get F-1 visas.
As per new rules, the students will be asked to leave the country or take a transfer to a college that provides in-person classes.
There were more than one million international students in the US for the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE).
"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," Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement.
Donald Trump administration is pushing for full opening of universities and colleges when the new academic session begins in September amid coronavirus outbreak.
ICE said in its announcement the State Department would not issue visas to students enrolled in programmes that are fully online for the fall semester and such students would not be allowed to enter the country. Universities with a hybrid system of in-person and online classes will have to show that foreign students are taking as many in-person classes as possible, to maintain their status.
In the case filed in a federal court in Massachusetts capital of Boston, the universities have asked for injunctive relief to prevent ICE and DHS from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful.
"ICE’s action leaves hundreds of thousands of international students with no educational options within the United States. Just weeks from the start of the fall semester, these students are largely unable to transfer to universities providing on-campus instruction, notwithstanding ICE’s suggestion that they might do so to avoid removal from the country," read the complaint.
It added that for many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is "impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous".