Immigration and Visa Updates

Update to the most recent Presidential Proclamation issued on 9/24/2017

President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation on 9/24/2017 outlining new restrictions about travel, which had an effective date of October 18, 2017. These countries include Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Two federal judges have halted President Trump’s Proclamation with federal injunctions.  The District Court in Hawaii issued a nationwide restraining order and the Maryland judge issued a preliminary injunction.

This is a federal challenge to the Presidential Proclamation and this litigation that was brought to challenge the Presidential Proclamation was brought only to six countries to include Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. This means that the travel ban is in effect for Venezuela and North Korea.

What this means is that for those six countries (Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen), it’s as if the Presidential Proclamation never existed. So for now, people from those countries can apply for visas. People form North Korea and Venezuela are subject to the Presidential Proclamation. For Venezuela, the Presidential Proclamation is in effect and suspends the entry of certain government officials and their family members on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2). For North Korea, the Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants.

The federal government has appealed the Hawaii case and the appeal will go up to the Circuit court level (9th Circuit). The merits have to be decided to determine if this Presidential Proclamation is constitutional.

It is our advice for students and scholars who are in the US to remain in the US and maintain their status. For those who have to travel, please check with your OISS advisor before you make your travel plans. As you can see, this situation is very fluid and things could change at any given notice.

Travel Ban Update

President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation on 9/24/2017 outlining new restrictions about travel, which will take effect October 18, 2017. These countries include Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. This ban has no effect on students or scholars who are presently in the US.

Foreign nationals who were subject to the previous travel ban (Executive Order 13780 issued in March 2017) and who lack a credible bona fide relationship with a person or entity of the US took effect on 9/24/2017. Those individuals with a “bona fide” exception, such as a foreign grandparent of a US citizen or a student or scholar studying and/or working at a US university, can still apply for visas until October 18, 2017. After that date, the new restrictions will apply. This new “travel ban” has no expiration date and is expected to remain indefinitely. It is also condition based and not time based, which means that countries that are not in compliance with US federal requirements will stay on the restricted list until they make the necessary changes and come into compliance. The reason given by the administration for these new restrictions is because these countries have been deemed to have “inadequate identity management protocols, information-sharing practices, and other risk factors.”

The following countries and conditions are included in the proclamation:

New countries:

  • Chad: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).
  • North Korea: Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants.
  • Venezuela: Suspends the entry of certain government officials and their family members on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).

Countries impacted by earlier bans which are included in this most recent proclamation:

  • Iran: Suspends the entry of immigrants and all nonimmigrants, except F (student), M (vocational student) and J (exchange visitor) visas, though they are subject to enhanced screening.
  • Libya: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).
  • Somalia: Suspends the entry of immigrants, and requires enhanced screening of all nonimmigrants.
  • Syria: Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants.
  • Yemen: Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).
  • Iraq: Requires enhanced screening of all individuals seeking to enter the United States.

Nationals of Sudan, who were impacted by earlier versions of the travel ban, are not included in the proclamation.

Students and/or Scholars who have visas to enter the US will not be affected by this proclamation immediately. They should, however, enter the US by 10/18/2017.

Additional exceptions to the proclamation include:

  1. Lawful permanent residents of the US;
  2. Any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the US on or after the effective date of this proclamation;
  3. Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the US and seek entry or admission, such as advance parole document;
  4. Any dual national of a country designated in this proclamation when the induvial is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
  5. Any foreign national traveling on diplomatic or diplomatic type visa;
  6. Any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the US, or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on June 26, 2017 agreeing to hear the case challenging the Executive Order (Trump v. IRAP). The Supreme Court has now issued an order removing the case from the oral argument calendar. It directed both parties to file briefs by 10/5/2017 addressing “whether, or to what extent, the presidential proclamation issued on 9/24/2017 may render the case moot.”

This is a complicated and very fluid situation. We urge our students or scholars from any of these eight countries to come to the OISS and speak to their advisor before making any plans to travel abroad.

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.