Trump administration backs off plan requiring foreign students to take face-to-face classes

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his first re-election campaign rally in several months in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The Trump administration is dropping a plan to require foreign college students to leave the United States unless they are enrolled in the fall term in at least one face-to-face class, according to federal court records.

The abrupt reversal, first disclosed Tuesday in federal court in Boston, came a little more than a week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an edict that stunned U.S. higher education leaders and students around the globe.

Under the July 6 policy from ICE, international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities for the fall semester faced a mandate to take at least one course in person. Those students, ICE said, “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

That mandate posed a major obstacle to plans for online teaching and learning that colleges are developing to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the spring, the federal government had given schools much more leeway to teach international students online.

Now, according to electronic notes taken at a U.S. District Court hearing, the July 6 policy will be rescinded.

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