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UAE School Students Face Deportation and Financial Ruin if Attending US Universities. MIT & Harvard Issue Lawsuit Against US Government.

UAE School Students Face Deportation and Financial Ruin if Attending US Universities. MIT & Harvard Issue Lawsuit Against US Government.

by Jon WestleyAugust 4, 2020

Breaking news: UAE School Students Face Deportation and Financial Ruin if Attending US Universities  

Alarm is spreading amongst students across UAE schools planning on degree study in the US on graduation, that they will face deportation or the cancellation of visas. The move by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to deport international college students on student visas if courses are moved on-line in the US because of Covid-19, could result in students returning to the UAE, missing out on a year of further education and losing thousands of dollars. Many students have already paid upfront fees for accommodation in the US which they face losing if they can no longer travel to the US to study.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued emergency guidance that, in order to remain in the country for the fall 2020 semester, international students must take in-person classes at their schools. Students in the US which, because of Covid 19, take entirely online courses, face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings …. [to meet the] carefully balanced protections implemented by federal regulations

New students at schools offering fully online programs will not receive visas and those who do attend and find their courses moved 100% online will be required leave the country or find an alternative university will to take them and which offers taught courses.

The decision will impact students planing to study at the spectrum of universities – including Harvard, which is planning for 100% on-line courses to protect students from the pandemic.

F-1 visas, which allow international students to study full-time in the US, only allow holders to count one online course per term to meet visa requirements. A temporary relaxation of the rules is ending following the Trump administration’s clamp down on immigration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many families are now seeking places in universities across Europe as the US effectively closes its doors to international students including those from the UAE.

GEMS_INARTICLE has been contacted by worried parents seeking advice on alternatives as the new threat that their children will face deportation sinks in.  As one parent told us:

“Our daughter’s future is in pieces.

It is absolute chaos.

We have invested thousands of dirhams which we do not expect to get back and we do not now know where to turn […]

It is no longer safe for our daughter to travel to the US to study as there is no guarantee that she will not be deported or worse.”

Matt Tompkins, Principal and CEO of GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai told

“We are deeply concerned by this situation and we are in touch with all of our students who were moving to study at University in the USA this summer.  We are continuing to monitor the situation, working with advice from government and educational experts.  Whilst supporting our students to monitor developments, we are also working with them to consider alternatives.”

Mark Smith, an international careers and university guidance specialist, said:

“This could have massive consequences for international students either currently studying or with plans to study in the USA this Autumn.

Again, more research and things to think carefully about for school leavers around the world.”


Universities fight back: MIT and Harvard file Lawsuit against US Department of Homeland Security and ICE

MIT President L. Rafael Reif issued the following comment with a promise to do all in his power to stop the US closing its walls to international students including those from the UAE:

“On Monday, in a surprising development, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it will not permit international students on F-1 visas to take a full online course load this fall while studying in the United States. As I wrote yesterday, this ruling has potentially serious implications for MIT’s international students and those enrolled at institutions across the country.

This morning, in response, MIT and Harvard jointly filed suit against ICE and the US Department of Homeland Security in federal court in Massachusetts. In the lawsuit, we ask the court to prevent ICE and DHS from enforcing the new guidance and to declare it unlawful.

The announcement disrupts our international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits. ICE is unable to offer the most basic answers about how its policy will be interpreted or implemented. And the guidance comes after many US colleges and universities either released or are readying their final decisions for the fall – decisions designed to advance their educational mission and protect the health and safety of their communities.

Our international students now have many questions – about their visas, their health, their families and their ability to continue working toward an MIT degree. Unspoken, but unmistakable, is one more question: Am I welcome?

At MIT, the answer, unequivocally, is yes.”


ICE Guidance in full.

UAE School Students Face Deportation and Financial Ruin if Attending US Universities

ICE to deport UAE students


This is a breaking story. More information to follow. 

© All rights reserved. 2020.



About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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