The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security have rescinded the policy that would have prohibited international students enrolled in only online courses from staying in or entering the United States. 

The decision was announced Tuesday following a hearing regarding a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the agencies.

The policy, which was announced on July 6, would have deported international students with F-1 visas unless they were enrolled in an in-person class, forcing many students to return to their countries or transfer universities. ICE will revert to the F-1 visa policy it instated in early March, which permitted international students taking solely online classes to stay in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Harvard and MIT were the first institutions to take legal action against this policy, but several other colleges and universities, including USC, have filed lawsuits against the U.S. government regarding this policy. 

“We simply cannot stay silent when the government is clearly using our international students as leverage to force a wholesale reopening of college campuses in the midst of a global health crisis with no regard for public health guidance,” President Carol Folt wrote in a letter emailed to the USC Community yesterday. 

Following the original change in policy, USC students organized to help international students and multiple USC professors publicized their willingness to work with international students. 

Folt tweeted the following in response to the policy reversal: “An exciting victory for our international students and higher education as a whole. I am proud of USC and our colleagues across the nation.”