Jul 14 2020

ICE Rescinds Restrictive F-1 Student Visa Policy

United States

At a glance

  • In a hearing before a federal district judge today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it is withdrawing a July 6 memorandum that barred F-1 students from remaining in the United States if their U.S. school did not offer in-person learning during the Fall 2020 semester.
  • ICE will reapply its March 2020 COVID-19 guidance, which permits F-1 students attending school in the United States to take online classes in order to maintain their status.

The issue

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today that it is rescinding a July 6 policy document that would have prohibited F-1 students from entering or remaining in the United States if their U.S. schools did not provide in-person instruction during the Fall 2020 Semester. The Administration will resume applying COVID-19 accommodations that permit F-1 students attending school in the United States to attend classes online in order to maintain their status.

The announcement came in a hearing before Federal District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, who is presiding in a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the restrictive ICE policy. Several other lawsuits against the ICE restrictions have been filed in recent days, including challenges by the State of New York, the University of California, and a coalition of U.S. states. 

What the policy rescission means for students, schools and employers

The policy rescission means that U.S. schools and F-1 students will continue to benefit until further notice from the March 2020 ICE guidance that permits foreign students to engage in online instruction within the United States during the COVID-19 emergency. However, future restrictions on F-1 students cannot be ruled out.

Fragomen is closely monitoring the status of F-1 policy and related litigation. Further client alerts will be issued as developments occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.