Trump administration reverses policy change for international students
San Jose State University is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Ramona Giwargis.

Amid much uproar from schools nationwide, the Trump administration has stepped back from its plan to force international students to leave the United States if their universities switch to an online format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A  U.S. district judge announced the reversal during a Tuesday hearing for a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to block the administration’s new policy.

Following the announcement, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, took to social media to applaud the reversal.

“International students are not partisan playing cards,” he wrote in a Tuesday post. “I’m glad the grassroots mobilization worked. We need to continue to stand up for our constitutional values.”

The federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued a statement last week announcing that some international students would no longer be permitted to study in the U.S. if they weren’t taking any in-person courses.

“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,” it stated. “Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”

Students and universities in Silicon Valley told San José Spotlight that they were blindsided by the policy change.

“It’s almost unimaginable; the cruelty of this decision,” Susan Popko, the associate provost for international programs at Santa Clara University, said Thursday. “We are outraged at this current guideline change and have been voicing our dissatisfaction with it and voicing our support of international students.”

Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.

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