USC joins lawsuit to stop student visa restrictions

Los Angeles, July 9 (IANS) The University of Southern California (USC) has joined an amicus brief strongly supporting a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against US President Donald Trump administration’s decision to ban foreign students taking only online courses.
“We are also working with our Congressional delegation and fellow universities on legislative and other solutions to this terribly misguided decision,” Xinhua news agency quoted USC President Carol Folt as saying in a tweet Wednesday.
The highly rated private research university located in Los Angeles, also noted that it is actively considering all other legal options.
“USC’s vibrant international community is vital to our University and has been since our founding in 1880,” it said in a statement on Wednesday, noting the university is deeply troubled by the updated guidlines.
On Monday, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unveiled the guidelines for F-1 and M-1 visas given to students restricting them to only students who take in-person courses or a combination of online and in-person courses.
Those who take only online courses would not be eligible for the visa.
As many universities switch to online teaching because of COVID-19 restrictions, not all foreign students can take in-person courses and they could be denied visas or fall out out visa status and have to leave the US.
“Issued without warning or broad consultation, the policy could negatively impact countless international students, and restrict research and competitiveness not only here but at research universities across the nation,” the USC statement further said.
“Given the broad range of courses being offered, both in person and online, we are optimistic we will be able to support our international students to study in person safely if they wish, but it may take a few days.”
USC is extremely popular with international students.
A total of 12,265 international students were enrolled during the 2019-20 academic year, according to the university’s website.
USC’S move came a day after the two elite institutions filed the lawsuit and were jointly asking the Boston federal court to stop federal agencies dealing with immigration “from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful”, according to MIT’s President Rafael Reif.
Harvard President Larry Summers said in a message announcing the suit: “International students will not be allowed to stay in the country if they attend institutions, like Harvard, that are holding courses online this fall. Their choices are either to transfer to another institution that provides in-person or hybrid (both in-person and online) instruction or to depart the country and risk not being able to return. Those students who fail to comply with this guidance may face deportation.”
An analysis of student visa data suggests that in 2018 as many as 1,064,586 international students came to the US to study in colleges and universities, according to College Factual, a leading source of data analytics and insights on college outcomes.

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