US repeals directive denying visas for foreign students

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US President Donald Trump (file image)

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday rescinded the controversial directive that would have stripped visas from international students if they chose to take online classes amid coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

This move comes after the rule announced last week sparked a flurry of litigation beginning with the suit brought by Harvard and MIT, followed by California’s public colleges and later a coalition of 17 states.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to bar international students from staying in the country if they attend American universities that offer only online courses during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The rule was criticized by states and educational institutions as a way to pressure colleges and universities to reopen their campuses with in-person classes during the pandemic. It comes as coronavirus cases are spiking in states across the country.

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Seventeen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s international student ban on Monday,

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, challenges the order and calls it “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already sued the Trump administration over the order on Wednesday.

The lawsuit represents a swift response to the unexpected order issued this week by the federal government, as universities rush to protect the status of thousands of international students.

India has also conveyed its concern regarding the F1 visa to the US during the virtual foreign office consultations between Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale last week. The US side had said that it will keep the best interests of the students in mind.

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