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DHS and ICE rescind new visa rules for international students taking online classes

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Faced with considerable resistance from colleges and universities across the nation, including Duke, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have agreed to reverse a policy that international students studying under F-1 educational visas cannot return to or remain in the United States if they take only online classes.

Federal judge Allison D. Burroughs announced that they would rescind the policy in a Tuesday hearing regarding a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the ruling, The Harvard Crimson reported.

Instead, ICE’s ruling from March will stand, which permits international students to take online courses and still maintain their F-1 visas.

"We are pleased and relieved that the Government has rescinded a policy change that would have caused great harm to students and their families," Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in a Tuesday email to The Chronicle. "The many colleges and students who opposed the directive were joined by business, political and faith leaders from across the country. It [has] been inspiring to see this broad solidarity with the international students who are such a vital part of the Duke community."

On Sunday, Duke signed on to an amicus brief with 58 other colleges and universities supporting Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit. President Vincent Price called the ICE policy a “misguided effort that will only harm talented young people and the colleges and universities that are vital to our society” in a July 7 statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated if new information becomes available.

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