The Trump administration has agreed to rescind a directive that would have barred foreign students from the United States if their colleges canceled in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, following lawsuits by a number of universities and states, a Massachusetts federal judge said in a Tuesday hearing.
During the hearing Tuesday in a case filed by Harvard University and MIT, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs in Boston recounted her understanding of an agreement between the federal government and those schools.
The hearing was slated for a 90-minute spar between the two sides over a motion for a preliminary injunction. Instead, it ended in less than two minutes, after the parties acknowledged a truce had been reached.
The settlement means U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will revert back to guidance issued in March that allowed international students to remain in the U.S. even if their college or university opted for online-only instruction during the pandemic.
The abrupt course reversal by the federal government moots not only the suit brought by Harvard and MIT but also similar suits filed by the state of New York, a group of universities in the Western U.S., Johns Hopkins University and a coalition of 17 states led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Harvard and MIT are represented by Ari Holtzblatt, Paul R.Q. Wolfson, Seth P. Waxman, Felicia H. Ellsworth, Mark C. Fleming and William F. Lee of WilmerHale.
The government is represented by Rayford A. Farquhar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
The case is President and Fellows of Harvard College et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al., case number 1:20-cv-11283, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.