Trump administration rescinds rule change threatening to deport international students in online-only programs.

While UW-Madison officials believed its hybrid programs for the fall would allow its international students to remain in the U.S., faculty still forcefully came out against the policy. Photo: vonbloompasha, licensed under creative commons.

Author: Sam Buisman

The Trump administration rescinds its policy threatening to deport international students if their courses are entirely online. 

According to the Associated Press, a U.S. district court judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT against ICE over its new rule refusing visas for international students in online programs this fall announced that administration officials are dropping this policy. If left in place, this policy would have made any of the over 1 million international students in the U.S., including the 5,800 at UW-Madison, subject to deportation if their fall courses were entirely online, which many universities have chosen to do in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank celebrated the decision as a victory for student safety and community, 

“Today’s announcement is encouraging news for all college students and for American universities,” said Blank. “Universities need flexibility to educate students in the most effective manner possible during the pandemic and international students deserve stability and support as they pursue their degrees here.” 

Blank and other UW-Madison faculty publicly deplored this policy after it was unveiled on June 6, asking the federal government to drop this rule. 

Yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul joined a separate lawsuit with 17 other states also challenging this rule, a decision which Blank praised

While UW-Madison officials believed that the school’s hybrid learning plan for the fall semester would have allowed its international students to remain in the U.S., many other colleges and universities including Harvard and the University of Southern California had already switched to online courses out of concern over COVID-19 before ICE announced this rule change.