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Trump Administration Abruptly Rescinds Controversial Rule on Foreign Students

In a surprise announcement, District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, announced a reversal of the government decision that was announced just last week regarding students in F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status. Foreign students will now be able to enter the United States and remain even if they are only taking online courses. The government agreed to resume the flexibility it had announced in March when COVID-19 forced most colleges and universities to go online.

On July 6, 2020, ICE sent higher education into chaos by announcing a last-minute change from that flexibility. Colleges and universities that had been working on re-opening plans for months were being asked either to turn on a dime and create new plans immediately that included in-person teaching or to forgo having foreign nationals on campus. This was not only disruptive to the schools; it also wreaked havoc on the lives of the students who had already made plans for the fall semester, including housing and travel. More significantly, the announcement dashed the dreams of many students and had the potential to harm the universities financially – possibly depriving them of needed tuition payments.  Some members of Congress writing to USCIS and DHS called the sudden change “cruel and unconscionable.” They noted that the over one million foreign nationals who attend universities across the country are important not only for the talent and diversity they bring, but also for the financial support that they give to the universities and to the economy. In one recent year, international students added close to $41 billion to the U.S. economy leading to the creation of 458,290 jobs.

The change in policy led to two suits in the United States District Court in Massachusetts – one filed by the two prominent universities that was joined by close to 200 other institutions, and another filed by the Attorney General of Massachusetts that was joined by the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia in a separate suit in the District of Massachusetts challenging the Administration’s order. Suits also had been filed by the California Attorney General on behalf of colleges and universities in that state.

It appears that the likelihood of a quick and decisive loss led the Administration to back down. For some time, it has been creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for foreign students. Perhaps this reversal of policy will help turn the tide.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 196

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Amy L. Peck, Immigration Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Worksite Compliance Lawyer
Principal

Amy L. Peck is a Principal in the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She dedicates her practice exclusively to immigration law and worksite compliance, and she is Co-Leader of the firm's Immigration practice group.

Ms. Peck is one of 21 Directors elected to serve on the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Board of Governors. She currently is serving on the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council.

Ms. Peck is a member of the AILA National...

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Michael H. Neifach, Jackson Lewis, Employment visa Lawyer, border security matters attorney
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Michael Neifach is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is a recognized leader on immigration, visa and border security matters, and he is Co-Leader of the firm's Immigration practice group.

Mr. Neifach has held senior positions at the White House Homeland Security Council, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He served as General Counsel at ICE from July 2007 through January 2009. Following his government service, Mr. Neifach oversaw the Immigration, Compliance, and Homeland Security practice at a boutique immigration law firm until joining Jackson Lewis.

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Marko C. Maglich, Jackson Lewis, Merger transactions attorney, workplace enforcement lawyer
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Marko C. Maglich is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Prior to joining the firm, he directed the corporate U.S. immigration practice of a large international law firm.

Mr. Maglich practices immigration law exclusively, and is a member of the firm’s Immigration practice group. Mr. Maglich’s practice deals with all aspects of business-related visas, compliance by employers and individuals with U.S. immigration law (including in M&A transactions and workplace enforcement), and in...

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