Top American technology companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have joined a lawsuit filed by the Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) rule that bars international students from staying in the United States unless they attend at least one in-person course.
The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, as these companies as well as the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, have asserted that the directive will disrupt their recruiting plans.
The lawsuit states that the new rule will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programmes.
The US will "nonsensically be sending...these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us...instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US", these companies said.
The CPT programme permits "alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with a student’s school".
The OPT programme allows up to one year of temporary employment that is directly related to an international student’s major area of study, which can occur either before the student graduates and/or after his studies are complete.
"International students are an important source of employees for US businesses while they are students and after they graduate. Finally, they become valuable employees and customers of US businesses whether they remain in the United States or return to their home countries," the companies said.
International students contribute substantially to the US economy when they reside in the United States, the lawsuit said, adding that the departure of these students threatens the ability of US educational institutions to sustain critical mass - which they need in order to maintain their standards of excellence, to train the American students who will make up the talent pool available to amici and other US companies in the future, and to perform the research that keeps US businesses on the cutting edge of innovation.
According to the IT companies, international students residing in the US make a substantial contribution to the country's GDP and have a particularly significant impact in towns and cities where colleges and universities are located.
They added that reducing the number of international students residing in the United States by half or more - even for a single school year - will hurt the economy, amplifying the adverse economic effects of the ongoing pandemic as international students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy each year.
17 states file lawsuit
As many as 17 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit on Monday against the new temporary visa policy for international students announced by the Trump administration.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), challenges what the 18 attorneys general call the federal government's "cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States".
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.
The states that have filed the joint lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit also includes 40 declarations from a variety of institutions affected by the new rule, including the Northeastern University, the Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts, the Boston University, the Massachusetts Community Colleges, the Massachusetts State Universities, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, as well as Rochelle Walensky, a Harvard Medical School professor and the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital.