Government Affairs

Policy Matters | Trump Administration Reverses Course on Denying Student Visas — Later Blocks New International Students if Coursework is Fully Online (July 2020)

July 30, 2020


  • Trump Administration Reverses Course on Denying Student Visas — Later Blocks New International Students if Coursework is Fully Online
    Guidance first released July 6 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) restricted visas if an international student’s coursework was fully online in the fall, and requested that institutions notify them by July 15 if this was going to be the case. Critics warned the move was shortsighted and would create confusion. Originally sued by MIT and Harvard, and many others in short order, the Administration reversed course and rescinded the rule. However, on July 24, ICE stated that new international students cannot come to the country to take online-only coursework.

    A few other issues remain prohibitive for international students, and some campuses are asking international students who have not returned to the U.S. to stay in their home country, and not come to campus, due to roadblocks caused by:

    • Regulatory burdens, based on guidance by ICE
    • State Department suspensions in visa processing 
    • Existing travel restrictions between countries due to the pandemic



  • Senator Alexander Releases COVID/Education Bills
    Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, introduced the The Student Loan Repayment and FAFSA Simplification Act July 21, and the Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act on Monday, July 27. The bills are a general framework for what Alexander and Republicans see as their opportunity to change the Higher Education Act this Congress, as well as support COVID relief for the healthcare and education industry. The bills include items like supporting simplification of student loan repayment options from the nine current repayment methods to two: a ten-year mortgage-style payment plan, and an income-based payment plan that limits payments to 10% of discretionary income. It also includes major supports for healthcare including COVID testing, vaccine production, and tweaks to CARES Act provisions. Other education provisions like supporting workforce and short-term training, and supporting scholarships to K-12 private schools, are included. Portions of the bill are seen as Senator Alexander’s hopes for what will be included in a bigger COVID relief package currently under consideration.






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