Immigration and Visa Updates

Information for Individuals in DACA Status

On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced that he would be winding down the program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Homeland Security provided a memorandum of Frequently Asked Questions. Below is a summary of the details of this announcement:

  • The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer accepting new applications for DACA, but will review any new applications received on or before September 5, 2017. Any new DACA applications received after September 5, 2017 will be returned.
  • Those who are currently on DACA, whose benefits expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, can apply for an extension of their benefits, but the extension application must be filed by October 5, 2017. After October 5, 2017, applications for extension of benefits will be rejected.
  • Those who are currently on DACA will be allowed to remain in this status until the end of their authorized period of DACA. During this time their work authorization will remain in effect until the employment authorization document expires, unless it is terminated or revoked. Generally DACA is granted for two years from the date of issuance.
  • If an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for someone under DACA has been lost, stolen or damaged, it is possible to apply for a replacement document by filing an I-765 form.
  • DACA recipients will no longer be able to file for Advance Parole, which allows for travel outside the United States while under DACA.
  • Those under DACA who have a valid grant of Advance Parole generally retain that benefit until it expires. However, admission to the United States is not guaranteed when someone leaves the country, and this benefit may be revoked or terminated at any time. Thus, those on DACA who are considering leaving the US should consult with immigration counsel before making travel plans.

For those on DACA who have concerns about immigration or housing issues, the Office for International Students and Scholars can be a resource. There is also helpful information on the website of the Washington University Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) at https://diversityinclusion.wustl.edu/resources/undocumented-student-resources/

Travel Ban

On January 27, 2017 and again on March 6, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Orders which were referred to as “travel bans” on entry into the United States by students from certain countries. However, in regards to both Executive Orders, the courts have now blocked their implementation. There may be additional legal action by the Executive branch to challenge these court rulings. But at the moment, neither Executive Order is being implemented. We are still recommending that students and scholars from any of the seven countries (i.e., Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) specified in the first Executive Order avoid travel at this time and, if travel is necessary, speak in person with an OISS Advisor before finalizing travel plans.

Travel for International Students and Scholars From Other Countries

International students and scholars who plan to travel outside the US should keep in mind that re-entry to the US has never been, nor is currently, guaranteed. We have heard anecdotally that travelers applying for entry to the US are being asked more questions and are under more scrutiny upon entrance into the US.

We have anecdotal evidence that individuals who are not citizens of the countries covered under the travel ban, but who traveled in those countries are experiencing greater scrutiny. Thus, anyone who has traveled to these countries should carefully consider their travel and should consult with immigration counsel before leaving the country.

Applications at USCIS

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service has confirmed that they are continuing to process applications for benefits for individuals from the countries covered under the travel ban, and that this Executive Order does not affect this processing. Based on our experience, the USCIS has been approving applications for students and scholars from these countries.

Visa Interview Waivers/Visa Processing

In recent years, it has been possible for some individuals to obtain a waiver of the visa interview for renewals of visas. The Executive Order eliminated that possibility. However, the actions of the courts put a temporary hold on such a change. It is possible that visas will again become required for all applicants, which could result in longer delays in visa processing, particularly at certain high-volume consulates. Thus, anyone who is must obtain a new visa to enter the US is advised to apply early.

General Advice

Now, as always, it is particularly important that students and scholars maintain their status while in the US and that they carry the necessary documents when re-entering the US (for example, for F-1s, an I-20 recently endorsed for travel on page 2). Please note that when an international student or scholar attempts to enter the US, the border officials may ask for access to their cell phone or computer. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents are allowed to search cell phone and computers for contacts, past calls, social media posts and internet activities. CBP is also allowed to ask any questions deemed necessary to determine eligibility for entry, including questions about a traveler’s religion and political opinions.

 

If you have any concerns about your travel plans and immigration matters, please speak with an OISS Advisor during walk-in hours, or you can contact us or email oiss@wustl.edu.