Harvard, MIT Sue Trump Govt Over Order Revoking Visas For Foreign Students

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 22, 2020, general view of Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. – US President Donald Trump lashed out at Harvard University on July 7, 2020, calling its decision to move all its courses online in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic “ridiculous.” Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP.

 

Harvard and MIT asked a court Wednesday to block an order by President Donald Trump’s administration threatening the visas of foreign students whose entire courses have moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The universities’ lawsuit was in response to an announcement Monday by the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) that the affected students must leave the country or transfer to a school offering in-person tuition.

“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students, and international students at institutions across the country, can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement.

ICE said in its announcement the State Department would not issue visas to students enrolled in programs that are fully online for the fall semester and such students would not be allowed to enter the country.

Universities with a hybrid system of in-person and online classes will have to show that foreign students are taking as many in-person classes as possible, to maintain their status.

The measure was seen as a move by the White House to put pressure on educational institutions that are adopting a cautious approach to reopening amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” Bacow said.

“It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors and others,” he added.

The universities say in their lawsuit that the order would harm students “immensely,” both personally and financially.

It describes the order as “arbitrary and capricious.”

The plaintiffs ask that the court issue a temporary restraining order and “permanent injunctive relief” preventing the policy being enforced.

They also ask that the order be declared unlawful, that their fees are covered, and that they receive any other relief that the court deems appropriate.

The lawsuit, filed in a Massachusetts district court, lists the defendants as ICE and the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester but Harvard University has said all its classes for the 2020-21 academic year will be conducted online “with rare exceptions.”

It says packed classrooms would endanger the health of students and teachers.

Trump has branded the decision “ridiculous.”

AFP

 

US Asks Health Workers To Apply For Visas Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

US Embassy Suspends ‘Dropbox’ Process For Visa Renewals In Nigeria
Photo: [email protected]

 

The United States government has called on health experts seeking to work in the country to apply for visas.

It made the call in a statement on Friday, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed many people with thousands infected in that country.

“We encourage medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor programme (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment,” the statement published on www.travel.state.gov said.

The US also asked other foreign medical professionals already in the country to consult with their sponsor to extend their programmes in the country.

It noted that ‘J-1 programme’ for foreign medical residents can be extended one year at a time for up to seven years.

The government, however, explained that the expiration date on a visa does not determine how long a foreigner can stay in the US.

U.S. Stops Issuing Visas In Turkey

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 19: President Donald Trump speaks to world leaders at the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017 in New York City. SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The United States on Sunday indefinitely suspended handling all regular visa applications in Turkey, dramatically escalating a row after one of the mission’s Turkish staffers was arrested.

The Ankara embassy said in a statement that until further notice none of its missions in Turkey would issue non-immigrant visas.

“Recent events” had forced the US government to reassess Turkey’s “commitment” to the security of US mission services and personnel in the country, it said.

In order to minimise the number of visitors while the assessment is carried out, “effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey,” it said.

Non-immigrant visas are issued to all those travelling to the United States for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study. Immigrant visa services are only for those seeking to live in the US permanently.

‘Deeply disturbed’

Beyond mentioning “recent events”, the statement made no explicit mention of the the arrest by Turkish authorities of a local Turkish staffer working at the US consulate in Istanbul.

The employee was remanded in custody by an Istanbul court late Wednesday on accusations of links to the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The staffer has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government.

The US embassy on Thursday said it was “deeply disturbed” over the arrest and rejected the allegations against the employee as “wholly without merit”.

The statement also condemned leaks in the local press which it said came from Turkish government sources that were “seemingly aimed at trying the employee in the media rather than a court of law.”

But Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has defended the arrest, saying “there must be serious evidence” and pointing to a phone call made from the Istanbul consulate to a key suspect on the night of the coup.

That latest arrest also came after a Turkish employee at the US consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested in March on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The Adana region is home to the US airbase at Turkey’s Incirlik military airport, where dozens of American nuclear missiles are stored and which serves as a key hub for operations in Syria.

– ‘Scandalous decision’ –
The suspension in accepting applications for and issuing all normal visas is extremely unusual. US missions in Moscow in August suspended the issuing of non-immigrant visas for nine days and then scaled back operations.

There has yet to be an official reaction from Ankara but the pro-government Yeni Safak daily described it as “a scandalous decision from the United States”.

The issue has added yet another bone of contention in the increasingly troubled relationship between Washington and Ankara.

Turkish officials had expressed hope of a new page in Ankara-Washington relations under President Donald Trump.

Turkey has pressed Washington for the extradition of the Pennsylvania-based Gulen, who denies any link to the coup bid.

The lack of movement on the issue has further strained ties already fraying over Washington’s support for a Syrian Kurdish militia Ankara deems to be a terror group.

Meanwhile, members of Erdogan’s security detail were indicted by US authorities after clashes with protesters during an official visit this year, infuriating the Turkish president.

American pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir, has been held by Turkish authorities since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen’s group.

Erdogan suggested last month that Turkey could release him in exchange for Gulen but Washington showed little interest in the proposal.

 

AFP

Immigration To Grant Visas To Foreign Investors Within 48 Hours

Photo: immigration.gov.ng

The Nigeria Immigration Services has introduced a new guideline that will ensure foreigners coming to do business in Nigeria get their visas within 48 hours.

The policy comes one month after Acting President Yemi Osinbajo signed an executive order which provides guidelines for agencies to ensure the ease of doing business in the country.

The Comptroller General of Immigration, Mr Muhammad Babandede made the announcement on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Babandede assured the public that the initiative would not burden Nigeria’s boarders which had already been described by some citizens as very porous.

The Minister of Interior, Retired Lieutenant General Abdulraman Dambazzau, presented the new timeline handbook to Immigration officers at their headquarters in Abuja.

He said the initiative was in line with the Federal Government’s executive order on the ease of doing business in the country.