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NEWS, IMMIGRATION POLICY UPDATES,

& FAQs

(Updated: 9/14/2021, 8:45 AM 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.

 

2021 News and Policy Updates:

10/19/2021 Diversity Visa Lottery 2023 Now Open

The U.S. Department of State's Diversity Visa Lottery is now open, running through Tuesday, November 9th at noon Eastern Standard Time.  If you are a native of a country with "historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.," then you may qualify to enter.  It is free to apply; applications are only accepted online at: https://dvprogram.state.gov/.  Beware of fraud and scammers; only use legitimate state.gov websites! To learn more about the process, review the instructions.

10/15/2021 White House Announces Update On Travel Restrictions

On Friday October 15th, the White House announced that on November 8th it will replace the current COVID geographic travel restrictions (barring nonimmigrant travelers who have spent time in China, Brazil, the U.K., Ireland, Schengen countries, Iran, India, and South Africa from travelling to the U.S.).  Starting on this date, all adult travelers will instead need to provide evidence of COVID vaccination and a negative COVID test within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S.  The White House has still not released specific guidance for this new policy (such as which vaccines will be acceptable).  Until November 8th, the current COVID geographic travel restrictions will remain in place!  U.S. Consulates may still be experiencing lengthy visa processing delays, regardless of this change in policy, so plan any international travel very carefully and prepare contingency plans in case of delay.

9/15/2021 DEPT OF STATE EXPANDS WAIVER OF IN-PERSON VISA APPOINTMENTS

On September 14th, the U.S. Department of State announced expanded waivers of in-person visa interviews for F and J "academic" visa applicants through the end of 2021. Consular officials may choose to waive the visa interview requirements for F and J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa and who have never been refused a visa and have no apparent ineligibility or for first time F and J visa applicants who are citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Prgoram with no apparent ineligibility.  Details on procedures will be available on the website of the relevant consulate.  Consular services are still dependent upon in-country conditions.

6/29/2021 DEPT OF STATE EXTENDS VALIDITY OF NATIONAL INTEREST EXCEPTIONS

On June 29 the U.S. Department of State extended the validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for travelers subject to restrictions under the COVID geographic travel restrictions imposed by Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, 10199 and similar.  NIEs will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted.

5/3/2021 NONIMMIGRANT VISA PROCESSING CEASING IN RUSSIA

Effective May 12, 2021, the U.S. Mission in Russia will reduce consular services offered in Russia, including ceasing all nonimmigrant visa processing. Learn more here.

5/3/2021 UNIFORM GLOBAL NATIONAL INTEREST EXCEPTIONS TO COVID GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

On April 30th, The U.S. Department of State issued a press release regarding "Uniform Global National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions." The same potential exceptions applied to travelers from other COVID restricted geographic areas may also apply to persons present in India; these include automatic exceptions for F-1 students whose programs begin on or after August 1, and potential exceptions for J-1 Exchange Visitors, who must contact their local consulate to apply for the exception. Persons in H-1B status may qualify based on humanitarian, public health response, or critical infrastructure needs.

5/3/2021 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION ADDS INDIA TO COVID GEOGRAPHIC TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

On April 30, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation suspending entry of nonimmigrant persons to the U.S. who were physically present in India within the fourteen-day period immediately prior to applying for admission to the U.S., effective Tuesday, May 4th. National Interest Exceptions to this proclamation exist similar to those for the other COVID geographic travel restriction proclamations; however, due to COVID conditions in-country, U.S. consulate services have been sharply curtailed, and those persons needing to apply for a visa stamp may encounter significant delays. This proclamation does not apply to immigrants.

1/25/21 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATIONS ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

The Biden administration's Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Non-Immigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease clarifies that President Trump's earlier geographic COVID travel restrictions (China, Iran, Schengen countries, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Brazil) remain in effect until terminated by President Biden, and adds South Africa to the list, effective January 30, 2021.  National interest exceptions may still be available.

1/21/21 EXECUTIVE ORDER ON PROMOTING COVID-19 SAFETY IN DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The Biden administration issued an Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requiring that masks be worn in airports or on commercial aircraft, trains, maritime vessels, intercity bus services and other forms of public transportation within the U.S., strictly adhering with CDC guidelines In addition, international travelers should be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling to the U.S. and to comply with applicable CDC guidelines pertaining to self-quarantine after entry to the U.S to satisfy the CDC order of January 12, 2021.  

The U.S. will also pursue outreach to Canada and Mexico in order to establish health protocols for land ports of entry within 14 days and similar measures will be taken with respect to public health measures for arrivals at sea ports. Finally, the order directs the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccinations to International Certificates of Vaccination Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of same. Read the full executive order here.  

1/21/21 CBP EXTENDS CANADA-MEXICO LAND ENTRY RESTRICTIONS

U.S. Customs and Border Protection extended through February 21, 2021 the COVID-19 restrictions that allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for "essential travel" only. Essential travel still includes "individuals traveling to attend educational institutions". Learn more.

1/20/21 PROCLAMATION ON ENDING DISCRIMINATORY BANS ON ENTRY TO THE U.S.

Among many presidential actions announced within the first day of the new administration, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States. Within the proclamation, President Biden declared:  

  • Revocation of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States) 
  • Revocation of Proclamation 9645 of September 24, 2017 (Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats) 
  • Revocation of Proclamation 9723 of April 10, 2018 (Maintaining Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats) 
  • Revocation of Proclamation 9983 of January 31, 2020 (Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)

Within the proclamation, President Biden also announced resumption of visa processing and reopening of denied visa applications for those negatively impacted or facing delays imposed by Proclamation 9645 or 9983. While the travel ban has been rescinded, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are gradually resuming visa services that were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full proclamation here.  

For more information regarding visa services and estimated processing times please visit USEmbassy.gov to find the website of the nearest embassy or consulate near you

1/19/2021 DOL PUBLISHES FINAL RULE ON H-1B AND LABOR CERTIFICATION PREVAILING WAGE RATES

Late last week the U.S. Dept of Labor (DOL) published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States;" this rule amends the previous Interim Final Rule published Oct. 8th, 2020, which ultimately had been blocked by federal courts.  The new rule's effective date is March 15th, 2021.  As with the interim rule, the final rule will dramatically change the computation of prevailing wage levels in the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey database, for example, raising the wage rate from the 17th percentile to the 35th percentile of the OES wage distribution for a Level I (entry level) wage for H-1B employees.  While these rates represent a modest reduction from those under the October interim final rule, they still will result in a significant increase for all employers across the country.  There will be a phase in period over the first 1.5 years as rates are increased to final levels under the new rule.

Hiring of represented positions will not be impacted, as collective bargaining agreement salary scales are prevailing wage rates.  But barring court injunction or Biden administration roll-back, all non-represented hires of H-1B employees will be impacted by this rule.  Biden's transition team has indicated a memo will be issued tomorrow to halt or delay "midnight regulations" taken by the Trump administration and which have not yet gone into effect; it is not clear yet what additional actions the Biden administration might undertake, such as using the Congressional Review Act, or publishing a new set of regulations, or some other delaying tactic.  Additionally, court cases may be brought against the rule and result in an injunction, thus freeing up the Biden administration to pursue other legislative and regulatory agendas.

We encourage departments to submit to IFSO all of their new H-1B hire or extension requests for nonrepresented positions of which they are aware by March 1 so that we can obtain certified LCAs based on current prevailing wage rates.

1/15/2021 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR PUBLISHES FINAL RULE STRENGTHENING WAGE PROTECTIONS

On January 15th, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published the "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States" in the Federal Register. This final rule becomes effective March 15th, 2021, and adopts with changes the interim final rule from fall of 2020 that amended regulations governing the prevailing wages for certain employment-based immigrant visas and for H-1B/H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrant visas. These regulations update the method of computation for prevailing wage levels under the existing four-tier structure to better reflect actual wages earned by U.S. workers. Level 1 wage rates will be determined as the 35th percentile of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage distribution, Level IV wage rates will be computed as the 90th percentile of the OES wage distribution, and the intervening wage levels determined mathematically from the outer levels. Modifications of the computational method will be applied during specific time periods throughout a transition period. Note that wages determined by collective bargaining agreements will be considered prevailing wage rates without the need to compute wage rates from OES data.

1/13/2021 CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL REQUIRING NEGATIVE COVID TEST FOR INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAVEL ARRIVALS

On January 13th, 2021 the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) announced that all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country must get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of negative result or documentation of recovery to the airline prior to boarding.

1/8/2021 DHS PUBLISHES FINAL RULE ON H-1B LOTTERY FOR CAP SUBJECT EMPLOYERS

On 1/8/2021 The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security published the final rule "Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions" that changes the process by which cap-subject H-1B petitions are selected from a completely random one to one based on salary levels--selecting first those petitions with the highest wage levels (level IV) and then moving progressively lower (level I--entry level positions). DHS analysis of this process applied to the past two years' submissions indicates that no level I petitions would have been selected for processing.  The new rule goes into effect in 60 days, and therefore will not affect this current year's H-1B lottery. Academic institutions are not subject to the H-1B cap and thus are not impacted by this rule; private industry employers will be impacted, particularly those without the means to sponsor H-1B employees at higher wage levels.

1/4/2021 PRESIDENT EXTENDS SUSPENSION OF H-1B VISA ISSUANCE DUE TO COVID LABOR MARKET

On 12/31/2020 the President extended his earlier Proclamation 10052 (Suspension of Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market...), which prohibits the issuance of immigrant and certain nonimmigrant (including H-1B) visa stamps to those outside of the U.S. and without valid visa stamps in the affected classifications as of the effective date of the initial proclamation. The current extension runs through 3/31/2021; read the full text here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can IFSO provide me with any guidance for how to navigate my status and travel during COVID19?

The International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) is deeply concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and sincerely hopes that you and your family and friends have not been negatively impacted. We continue to monitor the situation and are here to provide support to our international scholar community. Below is a list of frequently asked questions about travel, employment and campus resources. Please either visit the current UC San Diego Information about the Coronavirus site for more information or request to meet with an IFSO advisor if you have any questions or need support.

Where can I find the most current information regarding inbound travel to the U.S.?

There is a lot of uncertainty at this time due to the rapidly changing situation and response regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On February 2, 2020, the U.S. President issued a presidential proclamation on the suspension of entry into the U.S. of immigrants and nonimmigrants of persons who pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19; additional countries were added in subsequent proclamations. Governments around the world are imposing their own travel restrictions and airline flights have been severely impacted.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of State has suspended routine visa services in consulates around the world.  Information sources include:

Can I travel outside of the United States? Can I get a visa renewed? Am I allowed to travel if I am a citizen of ______?

The International Faculty & Scholars Office continues to recommend minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the current administration's policies on visa and entry into the United States.  If you have any questions or concerns about immediate or essential international travel or visa renewal, please meet with an IFSO advisor.  Also, refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Executive Order Resources and Travel Advisory web pages.

Due to travel restrictions, I will not be able to arrive in the U.S. by the start date on my Form DS-2019. Can anything be done to change the dates on this form?

The start and end dates on your Form DS-2019 can be amended as many times as necessary to accommodate changing travel plans. Please work closely with your sponsoring department in apprising them of your visa application process and travel plans and they will communicate to us all necessary date changes for your Form DS-2019. These changes will be recorded in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) and a new form issued. U.S. consulate and port of entry officials will have access to the updated data in SEVIS and therefore should not need to see your new form, but you or your department may choose to have us send you the updated Form DS-2019 (see our shipping instructions), or we will retain it in our office and provide it to you upon your arrival.

I am currently on a leave of absence and am now unable to return to my program at UC San Diego due to travel restrictions. What should I do?

Be sure to stay in close communication with your sponsoring department. Depending upon whether you have a paid or unpaid appointment, you and your department will need to take appropriate actions for your pay status.  For those scholars in J-1 status, please update IFSO (email to ischolars@ucsd.edu) with your changing travel plans so that we may update SEVIS accordingly. Review the information on inbound travel in the FAQ list.

How can I receive my Form DS-2019 when mail is not being delivered?

Couriers may be discontinuing services in areas of high incidence of COVID-19. Contact IFSO at ischolars@ucsd.edu to discuss options. Check the websites of international mail couriers for mailing service updates such as FedEx

My appointment at UC San Diego is ending soon, but I am concerned about departing the U.S. What are my options to remain?

On Friday, April 3rd the U.S. Department of State automatically extended the programs by two months of all UCSD Exchange Visitors and their dependents whose programs ended between April 1 and May 31.  IFSO reached out to all J-1s impacted by this action to either 1) end your program, if you had already departed the U.S. and ended your program or had an approved Change of Status to H-1B, or 2) provide you with electronic copies of the new DS-2019 forms (with an option to ship the physical forms to you). Additionally, the U.S. Department of State provided an option to reinstate for tow months the programs of J-1 Exchange Visitors whose programs ended in the month of March but who were not able to depart the U.S. IFSO reached out individually to every J-1 scholar in this situation to ask if they wanted to avail themselves of this opportunity.  When reinstated by U.S. DOS, IFSO will send electronic copies of the newly issued DS-2019 forms to scholars, with an option to ship the physical form.

For Exchange Visitors with programs ending after May 31: J-1 scholar categories have a variety of time maximums. It may be possible for you to extend your J-1 program at UC San Diego if your department is supportive and you have the funding to support an extension. You may also be eligible to transfer your J-1 program to another institution. If you have already maximized your available time in your J-1 program, then you will need to change your status in order to remain inside the U.S. or may need to leave to a third country. If you are subject to the two-year home physical presence requirement, however, a change of status will not be an option for you. Those persons in F-1 status on OPT should check with their Designated School Officials on the possibility of applying for STEM extensions of OPT, or with their departments regarding continuity of employment and sponsorship in the J or H categories.

The U.S. Dept. of State has not ruled out the possibility of subsequent automatic extensions of J-1 programs, should worldwide travel disruptions continue to occur.

I need to travel home but want to remain on my program; what should I do?

The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for all international travel and travel has been disrupted worldwide. Any scholar departing the U.S. at this time risks the possibility of not being able to reenter (see FAQ above on "inbound travel"). If you need to get home and are having trouble locating flights, reach out to your local consulate or embassy, as they may be able to help you; see:https://j1visa.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.31.20-Communication-to-Sponsors-Travel-Difficulty-Embassy-Outreach.pdf. If you want to keep your J-1 program actiive, please complete a leave of absence form and submit to IFSO; we will then update your SEVIS record with this information.

I feel discriminated against because I am from an Asian country.

UC San Diego values the cultural diversity of faculty, staff and students and is dedicated to forstering the best possible working and learning environment for our global community. If you feel discriminated against based upon your race, color, ethnicity, or national origin, you can report it to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination.

If I am stopped, will immigration officers (CBP or ICE) accept a 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.

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:

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 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:

Where can Undocumented Students find support?

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.

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

Please contact 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.

If you are experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety and would like to access counseling services, there are resources available.

  • If you are a campus employee, call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 858-534-5523.
  • If you are a UC San Diego Helath employee, contact your Employee Assistance Program provider aligned with your medical coverage or call 619-543-3200. 
  • If you have a campus unpaid appointment, such as a Visiting Graduate Student or Visiting Scholar appointment, call the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (see above)

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

It 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 ischolars@ucsd.edu

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

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.

Archived News and Policy Updates

2020

12/2/2020 COURT DECISION BLOCKS ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF DOL AND DHS H-1B RULES

On December 1, 2020, a U.S. District Court ruling blocked both recent interim final rules of the Department of Labor ("Strengthening Wage Protections...") and the Department of Homeland Security ("Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification"), stating the agencies did not have just cause to promulgate the rules without notice and comment. The DOL rule, which was effective immediately upon publication, can no longer be enforced, and the DHS rule, with effective date of Dec 7th, can no longer be implemented. The federal agencies have the option to appeal or republish these rules with comment periods, but there is not much time left for the current administration to pursue these options.

10/30/2020 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON SELECTION OF CAP-SUBJECT H PETITIONS

On Wednesday, October 28th the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced proposed rulemaking to amend regulations governing the process by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B registrations for filing of cap-subject petitions. Currently, USCIS uses a lottery to select the 85,000 H-1B petitions it is allowed by statute to process each year (the "cap"); if this rule is finalized, H-1B cap-subject petition selections would be based on the highest prevailing wage level that the offered salary equals or exceeds for the occupational classification and area of intended employment, rather than a random selection process.  This rulemaking will not directly impact cap-exempt higher education institutions in their filings of H-1B petitions but could impact those persons seeking H-1B employment in cap-subject private industry.

10/20/2020: STATEMENT ON ELIMINATION OF DURATION OF STATUS PROPOSED RULE

Dear International Scholar,  
We are reaching out to express our deep commitment to you and your well-being, both during your time on our campus and beyond, and to alert you to the proposed federal rule issued on September 25, 2020 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would eliminate duration of status for individuals in F-1 or J-1 status. While it is important to note that this is only a proposed rule, we recognize the strain this may place on you and your families, and as members of our valued international community we want to reassure you that we are here to support you.   
Campus and University Actions 
Currently, UC San Diego is working with our Federal Government Relations Office, the University of California Office of the President, and higher education associations, such as NAFSA: Association of International Education, to submit formal
comments to the Department of Homeland Security expressing the University’s concerns about the proposed rule. 
What You Can Do 
In addition to our campus efforts, should you choose to engage in personal advocacy, the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO), International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO), and Extension International Programs would like to support you by providing a helpful Advocacy Guide with information on how to contact U.S elected officials or you can submit your personal comments to the Department of Homeland Security by the October 26, 2020 deadline. The Advocacy Efforts site also includes links to letters from various higher education associations and U.S. elected officials supporting the international student and scholar community in the United States.  
We want to assure you that we stand firmly in support of our international community. As Tritons, we recognize and value the many significant contributions you have made to our campus, greater community, and country. You bring fresh perspectives to our classroom discussions, spark discovery in our laboratories, and add to the rich culture of UC San Diego. If you have any questions, please contact our respective offices: 
  • Extension International Programs 
    ip.extension.ucsd.edu 
  • International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) 
    iStudents.ucsd.edu 
  • International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) 
    iScholars.ucsd.edu 
ISPO, IFSO and Extension IP continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as more information becomes available. 
Sincerely,  
Dulce Amor L. Dorado 
Director, International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) 
Patricia Juza 
Associate Dean & Executive Director of International Programs, Extension 
Roark T. Miller 
Director, International Faculty & Scholars Office 

 

10/07/2020: U.S. DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR AND HOMELAND SECURITY PUBLISH NEW INTERIM FINAL RULES ON THE H-1B CLASSIFICATION

On Wednesday Oct. 7th the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) issued interim final rules (DOLDHS) regarding the H-1B classification, and on Oct. 8th DOL made public the new prevailing wage rates in it OES database, which are considerably higher than previous wage rates.  The DOL rulemaking focused on prevailing wage rates, and the DHS rulemaking focused on tightening regulatory definitions and procedures.  While these are interim final rules with a 30-day public comment period, the DOL rule is effective immediately, and the DHS rule effective 12/7/2020. 

The new prevailing wage rates do not apply retroactively to already approved H-1B petitions and Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) supporting them; only those LCAs and H-1B petitions moving forward.  Also, salary scales based on collective bargaining agreements take precedence over published prevailing wage rates in OES.  If a department is sponsoring a non-represented employee for a new or extension H-1B petition, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your IFSO immigration advisor who will be handling the case for an in-house prevailing wage rate determination prior to making an offer.

The DHS regulations will limit H-1B approval periods to one-year only for workers placed at worksites not owned/leased/operated by the employer. 

IFSO is working with its UC Federal Government Relations colleagues and NAFSA: Association of International Educators to report the challenges UCSD faces with this new ruling and will be exploring what alternatives to the OES database may exist for problematic wage rate determinations.  Please contact ischolars@ucsd.edu with any questions.

10/07/2020 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY

2022 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY - The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2022) offers 55,000 immigrant visas to applicants from eligible countries if you are selected in the lottery and meet eligibility requirements. The online entry period for this year's Diversity Visa Lottery:
Begins: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 12:00pm (Noon) EST
Ends: Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 12:00pm (Noon) EST

Diversity Visa Lottery entries are done online through the U.S. Department of State website and there is no cost to do this; beware of scammers offering to do this for you for a fee.

10/01/2020: EMERGENCY STOPGAP USCIS STABILIZATION ACT AUTHORIZES EXPANDED PREMIUM PROCESSING

On Oct. 1 a new statute was passed that authorizes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to increase its premium processing service fee and expand this service to many new product lines that are currently languishing with processing times greater than a year in some cases (e.g., I-539, I-765).  The new statute includes an increase of the fee for H-1Bs and I-140 immigrant petitions to $2500, a significant increase from the previous $1440 amount.  Fees for other services when brought online will generally be capped at $1500 (I-765) and $1750 (I-539) with processing times of not greater than 30 days.  USCIS will need to update websites, forms, and processes before it can implement these new fees and expanded Premium Processing services.

9/30/2020 INJUNCTION ON IMPLEMENTATION OF USCIS FINAL FEE RULE

On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District court for Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and forms associated with implementation of the rule on October 2, 2020, are now put on hold, as are other aspects of the rule, including the Premium Processing time change from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Current fees and forms should continue to be used pending final adjudication of the matter.

9/28/2020 PROPOSED RULE TO ELIMINATE DURATION OF STATUS (D/S) FOR F STUDENTS AND J EXCHANGE VISITORS

On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Proposed New Rule to eliminate the current duration of status (D/S) policy for international students in F-1 and J-1 status and international researchers and scholars in J-1 status and replacing the policy with a set expiration date for authorized stay. Under the current D/S policy, students and researchers have the flexibility to make approved changes to their plan without having to depart the United States or undertake a long and complicated government process to extend their status. If approved, key changes to the policy may include
  • Limiting the period of authorized stay for F or J status (students, researchers, scholars and their dependents) to 2 to 4 years.
  • Reducing the F-1 grace period allowed to remain in the U.S. after completing a program of study from 60 to 30 days
Please keep in mind that this is still a proposed rule. It is not in effect at this time. IFSO is strongly opposed to these changes. We are monitoring the situation and working with UC-wide advocacy efforts. We will send updates via the ischolars listserv when new information becomes available. Please contact an International Scholar Advisor at ischolars@ucsd.edu if you have any questions.

9/28/2020 INADMISSIBILITY ON PUBLIC CHARGE GROUNDS FINAL RULE BACK IN EFFECT (INJUNCTION STAYED)

On September 11, 2020, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision that stays the prior injunction to these regulations; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published information on their website on September 22 indicating how they will apply the regulations retroactively to February 24, 2020. If you have a pending I-129 petition filed on your behalf and/or a pending I-539 application as of the September 22 notice date and which was filed after the July 29th injunction date, USCIS may ask for missing evidence prior to adjudication. USCIS will not readjudicate any petitions/applications that have already been approved following the injunction date and prior to the September 22nd notice date.Read the final rule here.

9/28/2020 CANADA-MEXICO "ESSENTIAL TRAVEL" RESTRICTIONS EXTENDED

The restrictions that allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for "essential travel" only have been extended through October 21, 2020.

9/28/2020 DHS AND TSA TERMINATE DESIGNATED COVID-19 AIPORT RESTRICTIONS

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published notices in the Federal Register that terminate COVID-19 designated arrival airport restrictions, effective September 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The restrictions had required all flights to land at one of 15 designated U.S. airports if they carried persons who within the last 14 days traveled from, or were otherwise present within, one of the countries designated in the five country-specific Presidential Proclamation coronavirus bans. The country-specific coronavirus proclamations themselves remain in place, however, subject to specific exemptions.

9/28/2020 USCIS EXTENDS COVID-19 RFE RESPONSE FLEXIBILITY UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2021

On September 11, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended until January 1, 2021 the COVID-19 flexibilities it established for responses to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and other similar response-based notices and requests, and filing date requirements for filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

8/3/2020 INJUNCTION OF THE INADMISSIBILITY ON PUBLIC CHARGE GROUNDS FINAL RULE

On July 29, 2020 a U.S. District Court enjoined the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (USDHS) from enforcing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to COVID 19 (see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcement). This applies to all petitions and applications adjudicated after July 29, 2020. The Forms I-129 and I-539 will not require additional information regarding receipt of public benefits, nor will the Form I-944 be required for Adjustment of Status petitions. In any public charge inadmissibility determination, USCIS will follow prior public charge guidance.

8/27/2020 EXPANSION OF VISA RENEWAL INTERVIEW WAIVER ELIGIBILITY

To reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 to consulate staff and other visa applicants, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced on August 25th that it has temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification. Previously the waiver was allowed only for those applicants whose visas had expired within 12 months; the new expiration period has now been extended to 24 months. The policy is in effect until December 31, 2020. The DOS Foreign Affairs Manual instructs consular officials to apply additional requirements for F and J nonimmigrants as follow:

  • SEVIS status indicates "initial" or "active"
  • F students: renewing visa to continue participation in the same major course of study even if at a different institution OR attend the same institution even if in a different major course of study
  • J exchange visitors: renewing visa to continue participation in the same program, with the same SEVIS number fr

7/22/2020 U.S. DEPT OF STATE ANNOUNCES NATIONAL INTEREST EXCEPTIONS FOR TRAVEL FROM THE SCHENGEN REGION/UK/IRELAND

On 7/22/2020 the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) announced automatic national interest exceptions for F-1 students traveling from the Schengen area and the UK and Ireland. J-1 students and scholars may also qualify for national interest exceptions but must contact their local U.S. consulate before traveling and have the national interest exception approved. This exception is in addition to the already existing exception for travel related to humanitarian concerns, public health response, or national security.

7/22/2020 CANADA-MEXICO "ESSENTIAL TRAVEL" RESTRICTIONS EXTENDED

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) extended once again the initial March 24, 2020 Federal Register announcements (Canada and Mexico) that temporarily only allow entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for "essential travel." Essential travel includes attendance at educational institutions and traveling to work in the U.S. but does not allow for tourism. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may return to the U.S. and persons may also travel for emergency response and public health purposes. See the USCBP FAQ for more information; this current extension runs through August 20th, 2020.

7/16/2020 EXECUTIVE ORDER ON HONG KONG NORMALIZATION

On Tuesday, July 14th the administration issued an executive order on "Hong Kong Normalization" that suspends or eliminates different and preferential treatment for Hong Kong as compared to China. This order will eliminate the "preference for Hong Kong passport holders as compared to PRC passport holders,"  revoke export licensing exceptions and suspensions (export control realm), and terminate the reciprocal Fulbright exchange program between the U.S. and China/Hong Kong.

7/16/2020 NATIONAL INTEREST EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN TRAVELERS FROM THE SCHENGEN AREA, UNITED KINGDOM, AND IRELAND

The U.S. Department of State announced on Thursday, July 16th a "National Interest Exception for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland" that allows students with valid F-1 visas to travel from these locations to the U.S. without seeking a national interest exception.  Those students traveling on a J-1 visa should contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request prior to traveling. The announcement also mentions "academics" as qualifying for the exception, which may reference J-1 scholars, as suggested by individual posts' announcements (see 7/15/2020 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ANNOUNCES PHASED RESUMPTION OF ROUTINE VISA SERVICES in the list below). We encourage J-1 scholars to contact their nearest embassy or consulate for additional instructions or to request an exception prior to traveling. Additionally, no similar statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection has yet been issued indicating that these travelers will be admitted to the U.S

7/15/2020 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE ANNOUNCES PHASED RESUMPTION OF ROUTINE VISA SERVICES

On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced the phased resumption of routine visa services, to occur on a post-by-post basis as post-specific conditions permit. Visa applicants are instructed to review individual consulate websites for information regarding operating status. Note that the five geographic COVID-19 presidential proclamations (summarized in the latest: 10041) and two COVID-19 labor market proclamations supsending entry of certain nonimmigrants (1001410052) remain in effect. According to several embassies in the Schengen area, however, Washington announced on July 10th that certain travelers from Schengen area countries could resume traveling to the U.S. if they qualify as a National Interest Exception (NIE), as determined by a Consular Officer, including those traveling as F-1 students and J-1 students/researchers. Posts announcing this policy include BernBratislavaLjubljana, LuxembourgReykjavik, and Vienna. We encourage you to contact your consulate regarding this policy and the procedure for boarding aircraft and subsequent admission to the U.S. at the port of entry in light of the current travel restrictions. Please bear in mind that the San Diego county health order will require a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival from any international location.

7/6/20 UPDATED VISA/TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS SUMMARY

UPDATED VISA/TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS SUMMARY - JULY 6TH, 2020

  • Routine visa services at U.S. consulates around the world continue to be suspended; exceptions are allowed generally only for health care practitioners or COVID researchers. Persons without valid visa stamps may have extreme difficulty obtaining a visa stamp allowing them to come to the U.S.
  • Travel bans via presidential proclamation remain in place until cancelled for the following countries: China, Iran, Schengen European countries, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Brazil. Applies to persons present in the listed countries at any point during the fourteen days prior to attempted entry to the U.S. 
  • Travel bans by other countries exist limiting entry of persons arriving from outside their borders; scrutinize the country-specific information carefully if you plan travel to another country.
  • Presidential Proclamation 5/29 limiting entry to certain F-1 and J-1 students and researchers from the People's Republic of China: persons affiliated, past or present, with institutions supporting the Military-Civil Fusion strategy of the Chinese government may be denied visas (does not apply to undergraduate students).
  • Presidential Proclamation 6/22 and amended 6/29 suspends entry to persons in H-1B or H-4 status who were outside of the U.S. as of the effective date (6/24) and did not have a valid nonimmigrant visa in the impacted classification as of the effective date. The proclamation does NOT restrict persons in the Research Scholar, Short Term Scholar, Professor, or any of the Student categories of the J-1 classification.

IFSO cautions to avoid international travel currently if at all possible due to the number of official restrictions that exist and the extreme fluidity of the world situation with respect to COVID-19. For those departments/scholars with plans to start programs at UCSD in the near future, IFSO can easily defer your program start date indefinitely; please continue to communicate with us regarding this need.

7/2/2020 DEPARTMENT OF STATE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY FOR J-1 PROGRAM EXTENSION BEYOND MAXIMUM DURATION

On July 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (USDOS) notifed program sponsors of the opportunity to extend the J-1 programs of Exchange Visitors in academic categories for 60 days beyond the maximum duration for those Exchange Visitors whose programs ended or are set to end between 5/31/2020 and 7/31/2020 and who are unable to repatriate to their home country due to conditions such as border closures.  The USDOS has not yet posted this communication on its website. If you meet these conditions and are interested in such an extension, please reach out to IFSO at ischolars@ucsd.edu.
See email notification: click here.

7/1/2020 REQUIRED QUARANTINE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS

Required Quarantine for International Travelers. On July 1, 2020, the San Diego County Public Health Services issued an Order that now requires a 14-day quarantine period for individuals arriving or returning from travel from ALL international locations. In addition, the S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommend that individuals arriving in the U.S. from ALL international locations should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel (quarantine), monitor their health, and practice social distancing. Please reference the CDC guidance on Returning from International Travel.

6/29/2020 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION AMENDING 6/22 PROCLAMATION

On Monday, June 29, President Trump issued a "Proclamation on Amendment to Proclamation 10052" amending the 6/22 proclamation (see below).  The amendment clarifies that the proclamation applies to anyone outside of the U.S. as of the effective date (6/24/2020) and who "does not have a nonimmigrant visa, of any of the classifications specified in section 2 of the proclamation and pursuant to which the alien is seeking entry, that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation;..." Prior language had read "does not hava a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation."

06/22/2020 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SUSPENDING ENTRY OF ALIENS WHO PRESENT A RISK TO THE U.S. LABOR MARKET

On Monday, June 22, President Trump issued a "Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak" that goes into effect on June 24 (12:01 am, EDT) and principally affects the H-1B and H-4 classifications.  The J-1 classification's subcategories that were impacted are NOT categories that UC San Diego uses, and the F-1 OPT/STEM OPT category was not mentioned.

  • The proclamation limits the entry to the U.S. of individuals in H-1B status and their H-4 dependents who were outside of the U.S. as of the effective date of the proclamation AND who have no valid visa stamp as of the effective date (or other valid document, such as an advanced parole document).
  • It is in effect through 12/31/2020 with the possibility of extension. 
  • Exceptions exist if deemed in the national interest as determined by the Departments of State/Homeland Security (such as national defense, medical care to hospitalized COVID patients, and COVID research).  
If you are present inside the U.S. on June 24 or are outside the U.S. but have an H-1B visa stamp valid for June 24 or advanced parole travel document then you will not be subject to the conditions imposed by this proclamation.
Everyone's immigration situation is unique; we encourage you to pose your questions directly to the International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) at ischolars@ucsd.edu or the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) at istudents@ucsd.edu.

WEB RESOURCES

Immigration policy updates available at:

05/29/2020 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SUSPENDING ENTRY OF CERTAIN STUDENTS AND RESEARCHERS FROM THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

On Friday May 29th, the administration issued a presidential proclamation suspending entry of "certain students and researchers from the People's Republic of China (PRC)."  The proclamation applies to all F-1 and J-1 international students and researchers who are:

  • Chinese nationals
  • Affiliated with any institution that "implements or supports" the PRC's "military-civil fusion strategy" (past or present affiliation), to include employment, study, conducting research, and/or receiving funding from these institutions. 

Undergraduate students are excluded from this proclamation. Additional exclusions include:

  • U.S. permanent residents or spouse/children of permanent residents
  • "Any alien who is studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC's military-civil fusion strategy"
  • Law enforcement/national interest objectives

The proclamation goes into effect June 1.

INTERPRETATION
The proclamation lacks clarity and suggests measures to be carried out in the future, both of which make it difficult to assess the impact on individuals at this time:

  • The entities that implement or support the "military-civil fusion strategy" are not specified in the proclamation, nor in the Dept of State fact sheet referenced above; we do not know which entity affiliations may result in future visa denials.
  • The proclamation gives discretion to the Department of State to revoke visas of F-1/J-1 graduate students/researchers currently in the U.S.  The literal interpretation of "visa revocation" would be cancellation of the visa stamp in one's passport; such action would not negatively impact one's legal status while remaining inside the U.S., but upon exit, would prevent re-entry to the U.S. without a new visa stamp being issued.
  • The proclamation gives discretion to the Departments of State and Homeland Security to "take action to further mitigate the risk posed by the PRC's acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property" and requests that the Secretaries of these departments report to the President within 60 days of any planned and executed actions.

The International Faculty & Scholars Office and the International Students & Programs Office remain committed to supporting our student and scholar populations during these challenging times. In addition, UC San Diego has numerous support services available for our international students and scholars.

Advising & Support Services

Discussion Forums

  • CAPS Support Forum for International Students
    Wednesday, June 3 from 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Attend via Zoom
  • International Student & Scholar Discussion Forum
    Friday, June 5 from 8:00am-9:00am (Pacific Standard Time) during ISPO Chats Forum
    Attend via Zoom
  • Chinese Students Town Hall Meeting
    Friday, June 5 from 12:00pm-1:00pm (Pacific Standard Time)
    RSVP for Zoom Link

We recognize this is a very difficult time for our international community. UC San Diego is a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public research university, open to people from all over the world. We are proud to support research and educational collaborations with both domestic and international scholars and partners. International exchanges are instrumental in opening and sustaining important dialogues that ultimately make our world a safer, more equitable place to live.

5/24/2020 CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED TO BRAZIL

On May 24, 2020, President Trump expanded his Proclamation on "Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants...Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus" to include Brazil. The expanded ban goes into effect after 11:59 pm, May 28th. For departments who have incoming researchers affected by this ban, IFSO will be able to defer J-1 program start dates while the ban is pending. Please report necessary date amendments directly to IFSO through our web-based form.  Failure to defer program start dates could result in cancellation of the scholar's SEVIS record. IFSO encourages scholars on UC San Diego's campus to refrain from all nonessential travel given the very fluid situation with COVID-19.

4/22/2020 PROCLAMATION SUSPENDING ENTRY OF IMMIGRANTS WHO PRESENT RISK TO THE U.S. LABOR MARKET...DURING...COVID-19

  • On April 22, the administration issued a proclamation suspending entry of immigrants presenting risk to the U.S. labor market during COVID-19.  The proclamation only affects persons outside the U.S on the effective date (Thursday, April 23 at 11:59 PM ET) who do not have a valid IMMIGRANT visa AND do not have any other valid travel document, such as advance parole, as of the effective date.
  • The proclamation does NOT restrict persons with nonimmigrant visas such as international students and scholars in F-1, H-1B, and J-1 status from traveling to the U.S. nor does it restrict persons already inside the U.S. from applying for Adjustment of Status.
  • However, suspension of routine visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world remains in place until further notice.

3/14/2020 CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED TO THE UK AND IRELAND

On March 14, 2020, President Trump expanded his Proclamation on "Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants...Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus" to include the UK and Ireland. The expanded ban goes into effect after 11:59 pm, March 16th. For departments who have incoming researchers affected by this ban, IFSO will be able to defer J-1 program start dates while the ban is pending. Please report necessary date amendments directly to IFSO through our web-based form.  Failure to defer program start dates could result in cancellation of the scholar's SEVIS record. IFSO encourages scholars on UC San Diego's campus to refrain from all nonessential travel given the very fluid situation with COVID-19.

3/11/2020 CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL BAN EXTNEDED TO SCHENGEN COUNTRIES

On March 11, 2020, President Trump expanded his Proclamation on "Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants...Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus" to include Schengen area European countries excluding the U.K., to include specifically: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.  The expanded ban goes into effect after 11:59 pm, March 13th. For departments who have incoming researchers affected by this ban, IFSO will be able to defer J-1 program start dates while the ban is pending. Please report necessary date amendments directly to IFSO through our web-based form.  Failure to defer program start dates could result in cancellation of the scholar's SEVIS record. IFSO encourages scholars on UC San Diego's campus to refrain from all nonessential travel given the very fluid situation with COVID-19.

03/02/2020 CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED TO IRAN

On February 29, 2020, the presidential proclamation suspending entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants present in China for the fourteen days immediately prior to attempted entry to the U.S. was expanded to include nonimmigrants and immigrants present in Iran during the fourteen days immediately preceding attempted entry to the U.S. For departments who have incoming researchers affected by this ban, IFSO will be able to defer J-1 program start dates while the ban is pending. Please report necessary date amendments directly to IFSO through our web-based form.  Failure to defer program start dates could result in cancellation of the scholar's SEVIS record.

2/6/2020 NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION OF ACCRUAL OF UNLAWFUL PRESENCE 2019 MEMO

On February 6, 2020, a federal district court issued a permanent nationwide injunction blocking the August 8th, 2019 USCIS policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status. This forces the immigration service to apply prior policy guidance based on its unlawful presence memo issued on May 6, 2009, under which unlawful presence does not begin accruing until an immigration judge finds a status violiation, or an immigration officer finds a violation of status in the course of an application for an immigration benefit.

2/2/2020 SUSPENSION OF ENTRY ... OF PERSONS WHO POSE A RISK OF TRANSMITTING ... CORONAVIRUS

On February 2, 2020, the Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus went into effect, banning entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the People's Republic of China (excluding Macau and Hong Kong) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S. Exceptions will be made for lawful permanent residents and family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The ban is in effect until cancelled.
For departments who have incoming researchers affected by this ban: IFSO will be able to defer J-1 program start dates while the ban is pending. Please report necessary date amendments directly to IFSO through our web-based form. Failure to defer program start dates could result in cancellation of the scholar's SEVIS record.
See "Information about the Coronavirus" for campus updates, resources, and additional information. Guidance on travel restrictions to and from China are rapidly evolving. If you have any travel emergencies or questions about future travel plans, please contact IFSO for guidance.

 

1/27/2020 SUPREME COURT LIFTS INJUNCTION AGAINST DHS' PUBLIC CHARGE RULE

On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an Oct.11 2019 nationwide preliminary injunction that had prevented the administration from enforcing its public charge rule.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now permitted to implement and enforce its public charge rule while litigation continues in lower courts. For a short summary of this rule, see the 2019 posting in the archived drawer below.

1/23/2020 CAMPUS ANNOUNCEMENT: CORONAVIRUS

OFFICE OF THE CEO, UC SAN DIEGO HEALTH
OFFICE OF STUDENT HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

January 23, 2020

ALL ACADEMICS, STAFF AND STUDENTS AT UC SAN DIEGO - Including Health
SUBJECT: Coronavirus: IMPORTANT Information for the UC San Diego Community

We are committed to keeping our campus community healthy, especially
during this time of the year with increased flu activity and reports of
an outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. We ask
you to join us in our efforts by protecting yourself against the flu,
knowing what to do if you have flu symptoms and educating you about
coronavirus.

What is the Coronavirus?

The 2019 coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan City a few weeks ago
and has been linked to a large seafood and animal market. The first
confirmed case in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020 in
the state of Washington. The virus occurred in a patient with
respiratory symptoms who had recently returned home from Wuhan City.

There are currently no known exposures to the coronavirus in San Diego
or on the UC San Diego campus. To reduce further spread of the infection
beyond Wuhan City, all public transportation within Wuhan City and
outbound air and rail travel was suspended as of January 22, 2020.
Recently, travel in other cities near Wuhan has been restricted. This
is an evolving situation, and UC San Diego Health’s Infection Prevention
leadership is in contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and
county public authorities and continues to provide ongoing clinical
guidance.

To learn more about the coronavirus, the CDC website is a reliable
source of updated information.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

If you have a fever and symptoms of pneumonia, such as cough or
shortness of breath:

· Stay home from school and work.

· Cover your cough.

· Call your healthcare provider to make an appointment. Students
should call Student Health Services.

· If you have traveled to Wuhan, China, within the past 14 days,
notify your health care provider at the time of your call. It is
important to call before heading into a clinic so that your provider can
be prepared for your visit.

· UC San Diego Health and Student Health Services have developed
triage screening (by phone and at front desks) and implemented
additional protocols to help identify possible cases of coronavirus to
provide optimal care for those with symptoms and to protect other
patients and staff.

Flu Protection

With flu activity continuing to increase in San Diego, now is the time
to make sure that you are protected against the flu. It’s not too late
to get a flu shot, which is the best way to prevent the flu and its
potentially serious complications. There is no vaccination for the
coronavirus.

We ask you to join us in keeping your vaccinations up to date, washing
your hands often, staying hydrated, and helping us prevent the spread of
infections. We will provide updates as needed; if you have questions or
concerns, please reach out to your primary care provider or Student
Health Services.

In good health,
Patty Maysent
Chief Executive Officer
UC Health System

Alysson M. Satterlund
VC Student Affairs
UC San Diego

Stacie San Miguel, M.D.
Director of Medical Services
Student Health Services
UC San Diego Healthhttp://adminrecords.ucsd.edu/Notices/2020/2020-1-23-1.html

2019

10/08/2019 2021 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY

The 2021 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2021) offers 55,000 immigrant visas to applicants from eligible countries if you are selected in the lottery and meet eligibility requirements. The online entry period for this year's Diversity Visa Lottery begins at noon EDT Wednesday, October 2nd, and concludes at noon EST on Tuesday, November 5th.

For more information see: 

Diversity Visa Lottery entries are done online through the U.S. Department of State website and there is no cost to do this; beware of scammers offering to do this for you for a fee.

DHS Public Charge Rule 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) PUBLISHES FINAL RULE ON INADMISSIBILITY ON PUBLIC CHARGE GROUNDS

Newly published regulations redefine the terms and conditions of the public charge ground of inadmissibility established earlier by INA 212(a)(4).  Under the new rule, “public charge” includes having received one or more “public benefits” for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (note that receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).  “Public benefits” include:

  1. Any federal, state, or local cash assistance for income maintenance (other than tax credits):
    1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    3. Federal, state, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance
  2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; commonly known as “food stamps”)
  3. Section 8 Housing Assistance/Rental Assistance
  4. Medicaid (with some exceptions)
  5. Public Housing under Section 9 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937

Application: The new regulations are applied somewhat differently for Nonimmigrants applying for extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS) versus immigrants applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS):

NONIMMIGRANTS APPLYING FOR EOS OR COS:
DHS looks backward to see if “public charge” applies.  The benefit seeker must demonstrate they have not received public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.  DHS will only consider public benefits received on or after October 15, 2019.

APPLICANTS FOR ADMISSION TO THE U.S. AND APPLICANTS FOR AOS:
DHS must consider a “totality of the circumstances” and make a prospective, forward-looking determination of whether someone is likely at any time in the future to become a public charge.  A public charge inadmissibility determination must at least entail consideration of the benefit seeker’s age, health, family status, education and skills, assets, resources, and financial status; a regulatory provision establishes a protocol for DHS officials to weigh each of these factors.

DHS is working with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to ensure that the Foreign Affairs Manual, used by consular officials in the visa stamp application process, appropriately reflects the standards in this rule.  The new rule goes into effect October 15th, 2019.

The International Faculty & Scholars Office and the International Students & Programs Office encourage students and scholars with any concerns about their personal circumstances vis-à-vis these new regulations to seek the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer for assistance and/or immigration strategy support/representation.

READ THE FINAL RULE

2018

10/10/2018 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY 2020 IS OPEN OCTOBER 3RD THROUGH NOVEMBER 6TH

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is open for this year. Approximately 50,000 slots will be open for lottery winners from eligible countries. Applicants must apply online; see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-visa-program-entry.html

There is NO COST to apply; beware of scams! Only use official .gov websites for applying.

9/12/2018 USCIS CHANGE IN POLICY

Effective 9/12/2018, USCIS' new policy guidance grants discretion to adjudicators to deny applications/petitions when lacking initial evidence without issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). This policy rescinds earlier guidance that recommended the issuance of RFEs in all cases except where there was no possibility that a case's deficiency could be cured by submission of additional evidence. We can expect more stringent review of applications/petitions and it will be important for departments and scholars to submit complete request packets to IFSO.  Furthermore, scholars should whenever possible maintain an underlying nonimmigrant status while their application/petition is pending to protect them from immediate negative consequences to their immigration status should their application/petition be denied.

8/3/2018 USCIS CHANGE IN POLICY ON "ACCRUAL OF UNLAWFUL PRESENCE AND F, J, AND M NONIMMIGRANTS"

On August 9th, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will change the way it determines accrual of unlawful presence in the United States for persons in F and J status. Currently, unlawful presence accrues for F and J nonimmigrants who have been admitted with “Duration of Status” (“D/S”) only on the day after USCIS formally finds a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit, or on the day after an immigration judge ordered the applicant excluded, deported, or removed. Under the new policy, an F or J nonimmigrant will begin accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:

  • The day after the F or J nonimmigrant no longer pursues the course of study or authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity
  • The day after completing the course of study or program (including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period)
  • The day after the Form I-94 expires (if admitted for a date certain rather than “D/S”)
  • The day after an immigration judge orders the nonimmigrant excluded, deported, or removed

Any F and J nonimmigrants who have failed to maintain status prior to August 9th will start accruing unlawful presence on August 9th. Note that there are some exceptions, such as those for students or exchange visitors whose reinstatement applications have been approved. We encourage you to review the policy change carefully.

Accrual of Unlawful Presence has significant negative ramifications for future immigration benefits, including three-year, ten-year, and permanent bars to admission to the U.S., depending upon the amount of unlawful presence accrued. It is extremely important for F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors, and F-2 and J-2 dependents to pay very careful attention to following all rules and regulations with regard to their nonimmigrant classifications, so that they do not unknowingly fall out of status and begin accruing unlawful presence. The International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) and the International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) remain committed to supporting our students and scholars in their study and research programs at UC San Diego and are available for individual advising to discuss any concerns this or other new policies may create.

6/26/2018 U.S. SUPREME COURT ISSUES FINAL RULING ON PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION 9645 (TRAVEL BAN 3.0) 

On June 26, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Presidential Proclamation 9645, which limits entry to the United States by certain citizens of seven countries: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.  UC San Diego International Faculty & Scholars Office continues to recommend minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the current administration's policies on visa and entry into the United States.

1/22/2018 GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN

The government shut down may impact our international scholar population in several ways.  Those agencies/services that are not fee-funded will be directly affected, such as the U.S. Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration.  The shut down will directly affect petitions that require a Labor Condition Application (H-1B) or Prevailing Wage Rate Determination/Labor Certification (Faculty permanent residency) filed with the U.S. Dept of Labor.  IFSO will not be able to proceed with filing any incoming H cases, or any already received H request for which we have not yet been able to file the LCA.  Scholars will not be able to apply for Social Security Numbers during the shut down.  If the shut down continues for a while, scholars applying for visas abroad may be impacted, as visa services are only partially fee-funded. If you have questions or concerns, please address them to an IFSO immigration advisor.

 

 


2017

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.


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 UPDATE -  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.


12/4/2017 - SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRAVEL BAN

On December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States stayed preliminary injunctions that had partially blocked the travel ban issued in September 2017.  Because of the ruling, the U.S. government  can now enforce the travel ban proclamation on all 8 countries, pending resolution of the government's appeal to the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, and during any further Supreme Court proceedings on that issue. The 8 countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.


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. 

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.


01/19/2017 - Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers
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.