States and Universities filed lawsuits in federal District Court against DHS and ICE over SEVP's Fall 2020 COVID-19 Guidance. The suits also asked for declaratory relief and temporary and permanent injunctive relief.

DHS rescinds July 6 and 7 guidance and restores March guidance as "status quo." At a July 14, 2020 hearing in the Harvard/M.I.T. case, Judge Burroughs said: "I'm going to recite my understanding of the agreement on the record, and the parties can correct me if I'm wrong. The government has agreed to rescind the July 6 2020 policy directive and the frequently asked questions, the FAQs, that were released the next day on July 7. They also agreed to rescind any implementation of the directive. They will return to the status quo as established by the March 9, 2020 policy directive and the addendum issued on March 13, 2020. ...By my understanding that moots the TRO/preliminary injunction motion and will preclude the enforcement of the July 2020 policy directive and frequently asked questions on a nationwide basis." Mr. Farquar (govt) agreed. Mr. Lee (plaintiffs) asked the judge to clarify that it meant that the July 6 directive and the July 7, FAQ were rescinded on a nationwide basis, and the judge said right, her reference to the "July 2020" directive and FAQs meant to encompass both, and "that both the policy directive and the FAQ would not be enforced anyplace..." Mr. Lee agreed. The judge continued, "the motion is mooted, the hearing will be adjourned, and the case will remain open on my docket pending further motion practice from the parties."

See NAFSA's SEVP COVID-19 Guidance Sources page for subsequent implementation details.

Law Suits

Note: Although the motions for TROs/preliminary injunctions are mooted by the July 14, 2020 agreement that DHS would rescind its July 6 and 7 guidance, most courts are keeping the suits on the books for now to allow for motions practice, status reports, and the possibility of amended complaints.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State of Colorado, State of Connecticut, State of Delaware, District of Columbia, State of Illinois, State of Maryland, State of Michigan, State of Minnesota, State of Nevada, State of New Jersey, State of New Mexico, State of Oregon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of Rhode Island, State of Vermont, Commonwealth of Virginia, and State of Wisconsin suit (July 13, 2020), Case # 1:20-cv-11311-ADB

  • Read the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Read a status report filed by the plaintiffs (July 21, 2020), informing the court that "The Plaintiff States believe that further guidance is needed to fully rescind the July 6 policy directive and, specifically, to provide clarity and additional details—to our schools and students, as well as to consular officials and CPB officers at the country’s borders—as to how the flexibility provided by the March policy will be applicable to new and returning students." An Inside Higher Education article (July 24, 2020) also references the status report.

State of New York suit (July 13, 2020), Case # 1:20-cv-05349

Regents of the University of California suit (July 10, 2020), Case # 3:20-cv-04621

  • Read the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California San Francisco/Oakland Division

State of Washington suit (July 10, 2020), Case # 2:20-cv-01070

  • Read the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington at Seattle

Johns Hopkins University suit (July 10, 2020), Case # 1:20-cv-01873

State of California suit (July 9, 2010), Case # 3:20-cv-04592

  • Read the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California San Francisco Division
  • Read a status report filed by the plaintiff State of California (July 21, 2020), informing the court that DHS has "not published or otherwise released any express notification or statement that the July 6 and July 7 policies have been rescinded," and that the parties "continue to meet and confer regarding Defendants' implementation of the rescission of the July 6 and July 7 policies and will provide a status report to the Court on or before August 4, 2020."

Harvard and M.I.T. suit (July 8, 2020), Case # 1:20-cv-11283, Judge Allison D Burroughs presiding

  • Read the complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Read the Universities' motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and accompanying memorandum of law
  • A status conference was held at 10:00 a.m. on July 10, 2020. Electronic Clerk's Notes for proceedings held before Judge Allison D. Burroughs: "Status Conference held on 7/10/2020. Colloquy re: schedule. Defendant will file response by 12:00 p.m. on 7/13/20, Plaintiff will file reply by 12:00 p.m. on 7/14/20. Amicus Briefs to be filed by 12:00 p.m. on 7/13/20 and will be limited to 15 pages. Hearing set for 7/14/2020 03:00 PM in Courtroom 17 before Judge Allison D. Burroughs."
  • Association Amicus Briefs
    • Filed on July 10, 2020 by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, representing 180 higher education institutions in support of Harvard and M.I.T.'s motion for a temporary restraining order. Download the brief, list of signatories, and the Alliance's statement.
    • Amicus Brief filed on July 13, 2020 by the American Council on Education (ACE), joined by NAFSA and 69 other associations of colleges, universities, educators, trustees, and other representatives of higher education in the United States.
    • Amicus Brief filed on July 13, 2020 by the American Physical Society and numerous other nonprofit science, engineering, math, medical, and other professional membership societies and federations of members societies.
  • July 14, 2020 hearing. Electronic Clerk's Notes (PacerMonitor) for proceedings held before Judge Allison D. Burroughs: "Hearing held on 7/14/2020. The Court was informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution to the combined temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions. The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation. The Government will return to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 policy. This moots the temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions... and will preclude enforcement of the July 6, 2020 policy directive and July 7, 2020 FAQ, which are being rescinded on nationwide basis."