ICE Rescinds SEVP Exemptions After Over 200 Universities And 17 States File a Lawsuit

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ICE Rescinds SEVP Exemptions After Over 200 Universities And 17 States File a Lawsuit

Written by Shantell DaSilva


On July 6th, the Trump Administration and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced updated COVID-19 visa exemptions against international students

These exemptions state that students must attend in-person classes if the school offers that or hybrid options (in-person AND online classes). If their school is only offering online classes, these students must leave the U.S. immediately or face other consequences from ICE.

Only two days after the announcement, Harvard and Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) joined forces and filed a lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Eventually, more than 200 colleges and universities backed-up the lawsuit and filed amicus briefs in support, reports WBUR

Among them were all of the Ivy League Universities, including the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University. Many of which argued that the visa exemptions disrupt their plans, and impede their ability to have a successful and safe semester—considering school is expected to resume within the next month. 

Initially, on March 13th, ICE and the U.S. Immigration and Customs’ Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published guidelines for current international students during COVID-19. They formulated responses in which students should follow through with if their situation resonated with any of the three scenarios they posted. 

Essentially, students under SEVP were allowed to remain in the U.S. under SEVP active status if their university continued, halted, or altered their curriculum from in-person to online. These guidelines were supposed to remain in place “for the duration of the emergency.” 

As of July 15th, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that there have been 60,971 new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. When this guideline was first released by ICE in mid-March, there were less than a thousand cases present in this nation. 

On Monday, July 13th, 17 states and the District of Columbia also filed for their own lawsuit against the recent exemptions made by ICE and DHS. These states argued that there have been thousands more deaths and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in July alone than there were when ICE initially released the SEVP guidelines. 

Fortunately, after universities and states joined together to form the lawsuit against DHS and ICE, the exemptions were reversed and eradicated. International students may remain considered as active status under SEVP until the state of emergency is over. 

Emerald contributor since July 2020

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