Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Department of Homeland Security over a new visa rule that seeks to send international students back if their universities move to online classes amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The move came after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that the State Department "will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."
The lawsuit, which was filed in Boston District Court and shared by Harvard University, claimed that ICE's decision "reflects an effort by the federal government to force universities to reopen in-person classes..., notwithstanding the universities' judgment that it is neither safe nor educationally advisable to do so" and it "violates the Administrative Procedures Act."
"The effect – and perhaps even the goal – is to create as much chaos for universities and international students as possible," it added.
The universities stressed the new guidance "fails to offer any reasonable basis that could justify the policy" and "provide the public with notice and the opportunity to comment on this rulemaking."