IMMIGRATION POLICY UPDATES

& FAQs

(Updated: 10/30/2017; 3:30 PM PDT)

 

The UC San Diego International Students (ISPO) & Programs Office and International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) recognize that recent changes in immigration policy may raise questions and concerns in our international community. Our commitment to supporting our international student and scholar population on campus remains strong and steadfast. This page provides information and support resources for the UC San Diego community.

 

10/24/2017 RESUMPTION OF U.S. REFUGEE PROGRAM

 On October 24th, 2017, President Trump issued “Presidential Executive Order on Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program with Enhanced Vetting Capabilities”. The Executive Order clarifies an immediate resumption of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program after the 120-day suspension ended on October 24th, 2017. The Executive Order also states that increased vetting and review of refugee applicants have been implemented. 


10/17/2017 SUSPENSION OF SOME TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS IN PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION ON VISAS

On October 17th, 2017 the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting enforcement of Sections 2(a), (b), (c), (e), (g) and (h) of the Presidential Proclamation “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” issued on September 24th, 2017. Visa applicants who are nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia are no longer subject to any of the restrictions or limitations under the Presidential Proclamation. However, the court order did not affect Sections (d) and (f) of the Proclamation, so nationals from North Korea and Venezuela are subject to the restrictions and limitations listed in the Presidential Proclamation, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017. For more information, visit the Department of State announcement.

The Temporary Restraining Order will likely face challenges from the U.S. Government, and the situation remains fluid. UC San Diego’s International Students & Programs Office and International Faculty & Scholars Office continue to recommend minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration’s policies on visas and U.S. entry.

 

Policy Updates:

10/25/2017 Technical Issue - Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2019)

Due to a technical issue, the DV-2019 entry period that began on October 3 has been closed. Entries submitted during October 3-10 are not valid and have been excluded from the system; they will not count as a duplicate entry. The technical issue has been resolved and a new full entry period will begin at noon, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday October 18, 2017 and will run until noon Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday November 22, 2017. Only entries submitted during this period will be accepted and considered for selection in the lottery. Please throw away any confirmation number or other documentation that you have if you submitted an entry during Oct. 3-10. Entries will NOT be accepted through the U.S. Postal Service.

For more information visit: https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/(S(smdova4csigtcatqng5ir5cq))/default.aspx  

10/9/2017 Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Services in Turkey

The U.S. Ambassador has just announced the suspension of nonimmigrant visa services at U.S. consulates in Turkey.  This suspension of services is not a “visa ban” on Turkish citizens, but rather a suspension of consideration of new visa applications.  Turkish citizens with valid U.S. visa stamps may still travel to the U.S., and Turkish citizens may still apply for U.S. visa stamps at other embassies/consulates outside of Turkey.  Additionally, immigrant visas are still being processed.  For more information read the Ambassador’s statement

If you have impending travel to Turkey or are inviting researchers from Turkey, please be aware of the negative impact on plans that this suspension of services may have.

 

9/24/2017 Presidential Proclamation

On September 24th, 2017, President Trump issued a new  proclamation “Enhancing Vetting capabilities and processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats,” related to the earlier “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States” Executive Order (March 6th, 2017).  The new proclamation restricts entry to the U.S. for nationals of eight countries.  The restrictions are country-specific and tailored to the situation of each individual country.  For additional information from government agencies, please see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet and the U.S. Department of State Travel Alert.  Below is a summary of the new proclamation and its effect on individuals from the designated countries.  This information and hyperlinks to all pertinent Executive Orders are posted on the websites of the International  Students & Programs and International Faculty & Scholars Offices.  Our offices remain committed to providing support to our international student and scholar population; please continue to check our websites for updates on immigration information as new rulings are issued.

AFFECTED COUNTRIES

Chad, Libya, Yemen:
Entry as an immigrant and as a nonimmigrant on B-1/B-2 visas is suspended; entry under other nonimmigrant visas is not suspended.


Iran: 
Entry under valid student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas is not suspended, though such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.  Entry as an immigrant and under all other nonimmigrant visas is suspended.


North Korea, Syria:
Entry as immigrant or nonimmigrant, all classifications, is suspended.


Venezuela:
Entry under B-1/B-2 visas is suspended only for officials of certain government agencies; read full text of proclamation for details.


Somalia:
Entry as an immigrant is suspended; visa adjudications for nonimmigrant entry will be subject to additional scrutiny.

Note: while Iraq is not on this list, U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended additional scrutiny for nationals of Iraq to determine if they pose a national security risk.

EFFECTIVE DATES:

There are two effective date phases: September 24, 2017 3:30 pm EDT, and October 18, 2017 12:01 am EDT.  The 9/24/2017 effective date applies to nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia who were subject to the 90-day entry ban of the March 6th Executive Order who “lack credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  The 10/18/2017 effective date applies to all nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela, and to nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia “who have a creditable claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  An example of a “bona fide relationship” might be an employment contract with U.S. employer or letter of admission into a U.S. institution’s degree program.

EXEMPTION:

Individuals inside the U.S. as of the applicable effective date or who have a valid U.S. visa on the applicable effective date.

EXCEPTIONS:

  • Any lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Any foreign national admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after the applicable effective date
  • Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the applicable effective date or issued thereafter, allowing travel to the U.S. and admission, such as advance parole
  • Any dual national of a country designated under the order when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country

WAIVER:

Granted on a case by case basis, based on demonstration of (see full text of proclamation for examples):

  • Denying entry would cause undue hardship
  • Entry would not pose threat to national security
  • Entry would be in the national interest

REFUGEES/ASYLEES:

This proclamation does not apply to individuals granted asylum by the U.S. or refugees who have already been admitted to the U.S., and does not limit the ability of an individual to seek asylum or refugee status and protection under the Convention Against Torture.

2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2019) Opens 10/3/2017

The 2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program opens 10/3/2017 and submissions can be made online through 11/7/2017.  This is a lottery that allows selected winners the chance to apply for U.S. permanent residency.  To determine your eligibility and for more information, see: https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Diversity-Visa/DV-Instructions-Translations/DV-2019-Instructions-Translations/DV-2019-Instructions-English.pdf  

Note that this is a free program; do not fall prey to scammers.  Make sure you are on a U.S. government website (.gov extension).

8/29/2017 US Citizenship and Immigration Services expands in-person interviews to include Adjustment of Status applications based on employment

Persons filing I-485 employment-based Adjustment of Status petitions should expect to be interviewed now as part of this process.  Conducting in-person interviews will require more time and resources on the part of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which may result in a slow-down in processing times for permanent residency cases by this agency.  This measure is being put in place to "strengthen the integrity of the nation's immigration system."  For additional information see USCIS website.

8/21/2017 US Dept of State suspends nonimmigrant visa processing in Russia

The U.S. Dept. of State is suspending nonimmigrant visa processing in Russia on Aug. 23rd, 2017.  Processing will resume in Moscow only on September 1.  Plan accordingly if you intend to travel to Russia in the future and will need to renew your visa stamp.  For additional information, see the mission statement and fact sheet.

7/24/2017 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumes Premium Processing Service for certain H-1B petitions

On July 24, USCIS resumed Premium Processing service for certain H-1B petitions that are cap-exempt. 

Premium processing resumed for:

  • Institutions of higher education;
  • Nonprofits related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • Nonprofit research or governmental research organizations.

The International Faculty & Scholars office has begun contacting departments who currently have pending H-1B cases with USCIS to discuss whether they would like to upgrade to premium processing.

For more information visit: https://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-resume-h-1b-premium-processing-certain-cap-exempt-petitions

4/19/2017 Executive Order "Buy American and Hire American"

UPDATE 4/19/2017 - NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER "BUY AMERICAN AND HIRE AMERICAN" ISSUED 4/18/2017

On April 18th, 2017 President Trump signed a new Executive Order titled "Buy American and Hire American." With specific regard to immigration ("hire American"), the order calls for:

  • The strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the U.S. of workers from abroad in order to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers
  • The U.S. Departments of State, Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security to take prompt action in proposing new rules or issuing new guidance to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of the U.S. immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse
  • The U.S. Departments of State, Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security to take prompt action in suggesting reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries

The text of the first bullet point references specifically section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, pertaining to "Labor certification and qualifications for certain immigrants"

In meeting the second bullet point's requirement, the listed federal agencies can propose new rules, which typically will require considerable time for writing, publication in the Federal Register for public review and comment, rewriting with consideration given to public input, and final publication in the Federal Register with an effective date in the future. Federal agencies can issue guidance at any point, which can go into effect immediately.  Both rulemaking and guidance must remain consistent with applicable laws as passed by the legislative branch of the government.

Reforms to "promote the proper functioning of the H-1B program" suggested by federal agencies can take many pathways, from administrative procedures within an agency (implemented relatively quickly, such as increasing fees, revising prevailing wage scales, or increased enforcement efforts against perceived H-1B program violators)  to making suggestions for legislative actions, which would take considerable time ultimately to go into effect.

 

3/3/2017 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspends Premium Processing Service for H-1Bs

USCIS will temporarily suspend their Premium Processing Service for H-1B petitions starting April 3rd, 2017.  Suspension may last up to 6 months.  See:  https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions. USCIS’ Premium Processing service guarantees a 15-day calendar turnaround time; their regular processing time is approximately 6-8 months.  With the exception of persons currently in H-1B status with another employer, UCSD is not able to employ individuals in H-1B status until we have a petition approval notice issued by USCIS.  Tenure-track faculty, by federal regulation, are prohibited from being in the J-1 Professor/Research Scholar category.

Potentially affected groups:

  • New faculty hires not already in H-1B status or not currently in F-1 status and eligible for Optional Practical Training (if in F-1, new faculty hires should NOT travel outside of the U.S. until they hold H-1B status, since the F-1 is a nonimmigrant intent category)
  • New non-faculty hires not already in H-1B status and for whom J-1 or F-1 visa classifications are not an option
  • Current employees with J-1 status expiring during this suspension period
  • Current employees or new hires in H-1B status who have expiring or will need to apply for initial CA drivers licenses, as the CA DMV only issues drivers licenses based on H-1B approval notices, and not receipt notices

The International Faculty & Scholar Office (IFSO) is processing all H-1B petitions submitted to our office as quickly as possible to meet the April 3rd deadline.  Note that regulations only allow H-1B petitions to be filed within the six months immediately prior to the anticipated start date, so this announcement only affects individuals who need to commence their H-1B status within six months of April 3rd.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How are laws made in the United States?

Changes in laws or regulations take time and will have advance warning. However, changes in policy or guidance and executive orders may happen more quickly and may take effect immediately. ISPO and IFSO will continue to monitor any decisions impacting our student and scholar populations, and will provide updated information through this website and via email. 

NAFSA: International Association of International Educators offers an excellent summary of the U.S. immigration system, government agencies and the process of change on their Practical Immigration Concepts in a Time of Change webpage. More detailed information can also be found in the following sources (from full resource list at NAFSA.org):

2. If I am stopped, will immigration officers (CBP or ICE) accept my student ID and/or driver’s license as appropriate documentation?

The US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 requires foreign nationals to carry appropriate immigration-related documentation at all times. Appropriate documentation includes a valid passport, I-94 Non-immigrant Arrival/Departure Record and for those persons in F or J status, the I-20 or DS-2019 form. Be prepared to present these documents especially when going through airports, train stations, checkpoints, border crossings, and other transportation hubs.

3. Will my country of citizenship be a factor in my admission to UC San Diego?

4. What things could currently jeopardize my status? Should I participate in protests or demonstrations? What are my rights?

At any time, it is important to avoid any violations of your F-1 or J-1 status. In addition to enrollment requirements, address reporting, or employment restrictions individuals in non-immigrant status are expected to refrain from breaking any U.S. state or federal laws.

Please think carefully before engaging in protest activities, as arrests can seriously impact immigration status or future visa applications. Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status.

Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status. Be aware that while marijuana use is legal in many U.S. states, it remains illegal at the federal level and use constitutes a violation of federal law. Use of marijuana, or alcohol/drug-related DUI arrests or convictions can lead to severe immigration consequences ranging from fines, visa cancellation to deportation.

If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact ISPO or IFSO immediately. In such cases, we urge you to retain immigration legal counsel to advise you as to next steps and possible consequences. 

Additional tips for interacting with US law enforcement and understanding your rights is available with the American Civil Liberties Union:

5. Can I extend my program of study?

If you need additional time to complete your program of study at UC San Diego, you will need to identify an academic or medical reason for the extension.

  • Undergraduate Students: Please meet with your College advisor regarding questions about general requirements. Meet with your department advisor regarding questions about major/minor requirements.
  • Graduate Students: Please meet with your Faculty Advisor and Graduate Coordinator regarding questions about time limits, available funding, and reasons impacting your expected completion date.

6. What should I do if I am approached by a government officer?

Some individuals may be contacted by government officers or representatives to meet in a public location so they can discuss your current immigration status. In general, this does not have a negative impact on your status. Please meet with an ISPO or IFSO advisor if you have any questions or concerns about these inquiries.

Additional tips for interacting with US law enforcement and understanding your rights is available with the American Civil Liberties Union:

7. Where can Undocumented Students find support?

8. What is ISPO and IFSO doing to advocate for international students and scholars?

ISPO and IFSO advocates for our international students and scholars on a campus and community level by continuing to provide education, training, and advising for campus partners and stakeholders regarding the complex issues facing our student and scholar population.

ISPO and IFSO also work in partnership with the campus administration and the University of California's Office of Federal Governmental Relations to advocate for regulations and policies supportive of our international community. Additionally, ISPO and IFSO work for advocacy through our membership in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.

9. Where can I find support if I have immigration or concerns? Where can I find support for stress and anxiety?

Please visit ISPO or IFSO with any immigration concerns or questions. Our advisers provide a welcoming, safe environment to discuss concerns you may have related to your visa status, as well as explore options and benefits available for your current or future plans. For complex issues beyond our scope, we can assist you in a referral to an immigration attorney.

Additional Campus Resources

Enrolled UC San Diego students can access resources through Counseling and Psychological Services, including individual confidential counseling appointments, groups, self-help tools, and more. UC San Diego employees and Visiting Scholars or postdocs can find support through the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program which provides free, confidential counseling and referrals.

10. What can I do now to make sure my record and documents are valid?

t is important to review your documents for accuracy and be aware of expiration dates.

  • Make sure the spelling of your first and last name match on your passport, visa, and I-20/DS-2019.
  • Check your passport expiration date. Make sure it is valid during your stay in the U.S. Apply for a new passport with your embassy or consulate when needed.
  • Check your visa expiration date. Make sure that your visa is valid before reentering the U.S. If it is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa. Remember: A visa is an entry permit into the U.S. It does not determine whether you can stay or work.
  • Print your current I-94 from the Customs & Border Protection website.
  • Make sure the major/field of study on your I-20/DS-2019 reflects your current information. If it is different, request a new I-20/DS-2019 as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019 has not expired. Request an I-20/DS-2019 extension at least 2-3 weeks before the expiration date.
  • Update/enter your local address, phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.

If you have any questions, please contact your ISPO or IFSO advisor.

11. What can I do for a student or scholar who might be affected by an Executive Order?

  • Gather as many facts about the situation as possible, within the scope of your authority as an employee of your institution.
  • Identify what you might be able to do within the scope of your role at your institution, and refer individuals with issues, questions, or concerns that are beyond the scope of your role or ability to appropriate helpers.
  • Consult with an advisor in the International Students & Programs Office regarding international student issues and an advisor in the International Faculty & Scholar Office regarding international faculty and researcher issues.
  • Remember that you cannot dispense legal advice. Know when to encourage someone to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
  • Notify stakeholders on your campus about the situation, through your normal supervisory chain

12. How do I contact the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) or International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO)?

  • ISPO Advisers for students: Walk-In Advising on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am-12pm & 1:00-4:00pm. Contact istudents@ucsd.edu or 858-534-3730.
  • IFSO Advisers for faculty and researchers: Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. Contact ischolars@ucsd.edu or 858-822-246-1448 to schedule an appointment.

Archive

2017

Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers (1/19/2017)
New regulations affecting employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant workers; see the full text in the Federal Register. Among other things, the regulations:
  • Create a 60-day grace period from "cessation of employment" or until the end of the authorized employment period, whichever comes sooner, for high-skilled nonimmigrant workers from the affected classes (the grace period does NOT authorize employment)
  • Create a 10-day initial grace period for TN workers prior to the start of their employment
  • Remove a requirement that USCIS issue EAD cards within 90 days of the filing of the I-765 application
  • Allow filing of EAD card applications 180 days prior to expiration of a current EAD (does not apply to STEM OPT EAD)

2016

Passage of California Marijuana Legalization Initiative (11/16/2016)

California voters recently passed Proposition 64, the “California Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” which, under state law, makes it legal for individuals to use and grow marijuana effective Nov 9th.   Using and possessing marijuana under Federal law, however, is STILL ILLEGAL.  Additionally, the University of California prohibits the use, possession, and sale of marijuana, in any form, on all property.  It is important to understand that federal law takes precedence over state law, and any infractions that come to the attention of federal agencies may jeopardize current or future immigration benefits.

USCIS increasing filing fees for many services (11/16/2016)

USCIS will be increasing filing fees on many of its services; for a list of the new fees, visit their fee list.

2015

DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

As of 5/26/2015, certain H-4 spouses of H-1B principals may file I-765 applications for Employment Authorization Documents. Eligible spouses are those whose principal H-1B is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or whose principal H-1B spouse has been granted H-1B status past the initial 6-yr period under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act.