University of California to file suit against student visa restrictions

The University of California (UC) has announced plans to file a suit against US President Donald Trump administration’s decision to ban foreign students taking only online courses.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, President of the Oakland-based university, Janet Napolitano called the order “mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America”, reports Xinhua news agency

The lawsuit will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to bar the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing the order, said the statement.

“This capricious and illegal order from the federal government” plunged international students into deeper anxiety and uncertainty, said Napolitano.

“It is illegal, unnecessary and callous.”

UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Perez was quoted as saying in the statement that UC has increased online instruction and decreased in-person classes in order to protect students’ health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is imperative for UC to file this lawsuit in order to protect our students.”

“To UC’s international students, I say: ‘We support you and regret the additional chaos ICE’s action has caused’. To the courts, I say, ‘We are the University of California. UC knows science, UC knows law, and we approach both in good faith. Our opponents have shown you time and again that they do not’,” Perez said in the statement.

The UC’s 2019 fall enrolment data showed that 27,205 of the university’s 226,125 undergraduate students are non-resident international, while 13,995 of 58,941 graduate students are non-resident international.

The UC’s announcement came the University of Southern California (USC)joined an amicus brief strongly supporting a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the US government’s move.

On Monday, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unveiled the guidelines for F-1 and M-1 visas given to students restricting them to only students who take in-person courses or a combination of online and in-person courses.

Those who take only online courses would not be eligible for the visa.

As many universities switch to online teaching because of COVID-19 restrictions, not all foreign students can take in-person courses and they could be denied visas or fall out out visa status and have to leave the US.

An analysis of student visa data suggests that in 2018 as many as 1,064,586 international students came to the US to study in colleges and universities, according to College Factual, a leading source of data analytics and insights on college outcomes.

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