International Students & Scholars Program, U.Va.

International Students & Scholars Program

A Division of the International Studies Office

Scholarship
Community

Information on Immigration Enforcement & Travel

September 27, 2017

Replaces Information on Immigration Enforcement and Travel through 7/3/17.

The International Studies Office (ISO), Office of the General Counsel, University Human Resources, the Office of the State Attorney General, and State appointed outside counsel on immigration are closely monitoring interpretation, revision, and implementation of the recent Executive Orders on immigration and travel and related court decisions.

ISO staff are also in regular communication with Student Affairs, colleagues at other universities, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. While we will attempt to keep this document updated, because this is a rapidly developing situation you should consult other resources (see suggestions at the bottom of this page) and call us directly for the most recent information, +1 434 982 3010 (24/7)

This document contains general information only, and is not intended as legal advice to any individual.  Legal advice can be provided only by an attorney directly representing an individual client.  If you need legal advice, the International Studies Office may be able to help refer you to one.

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September 24, 2017; Presidential Proclamation (P.P.) entitled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” :

Summary by Mark Rhoads, Commonwealth-Appointed Immigration Attorney

The Proclamation imposes restrictions on travel to the US for citizens of the following countries:   Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.  It is important to note that the ban does NOT require individuals from these countries who are already in the United States to depart (they can remain in their existing status); and does NOT revoke visas or travel documents that have already been issued.  This memo will summarize the Proclamation.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The September 24 Proclamation follows earlier Executive Orders which required  the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of State (“DOS”) to review the procedures for admitting foreign nationals into the US.  As a result of that review, the DOS and DHS concluded that certain countries have inadequate procedures for providing information to the US regarding:

 

(1) whether persons applying for entry to the US are who they say they are (“identity management information”);

(2) whether persons applying for entry to the US pose a national security or public safety risk (“national security and public safety information”)

(3)  whether the country itself is a security or safety risk because it is a haven for potential terrorists, is not part of the Visa Waiver program, or because it fails to receive its nationals who have been ordered removed from the US (“national security or public safety risk assessment”)

 

 

SUMMARY OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

 

Depending on the level of “inadequacies” identified by the DHS and DOS, nationals of 8 countries now have differing levels of “travel bans” imposed on them.  The following is a chart from the US Department of State of the affected countries, and the types of entries that are restricted:

 

Country

Nonimmigrant Visas

Immigrant and Diversity Visas

Chad

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas*

Iran

No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas

 

No immigrant or diversity visas

Libya

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

North Korea

No nonimmigrant visas

 

No immigrant or diversity visas

Syria

No nonimmigrant visas

 

No immigrant or diversity visas

Venezuela

No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members. 

No restrictions

Yemen

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

Somalia

No nonimmigrant visas**

No immigrant or diversity visas

 

*The Proclamation does not specifically reference “Diversity Visas”, although the chart published by the DOS includes Diversity Visas with Immigrant visas.  The Diversity Visa program allows issuance of a limited number of permanent resident green cards to individuals who are citizens of countries with historically low levels of immigration into the United States. 

 

**The published DOS chart lists Somalia as a country for which no nonimmigrant visas will be issued.  However, the Proclamation makes no such broad statement.  The Proclamation states that the DOS will engage in additional scrutiny for nonimmigrant applications from Somalia to ensure that the applicant has no connection to a terrorist organization or otherwise poses a threat.

 

(Note:  Sudan, which was previously on the travel ban list, has been removed.  In comparison to the list of countries from the prior Executive Orders, the new list adds two non-Muslim majority countries:  North Korea, which has minimal entries to the US, and Venezuela, but only a limited number of certain governmental officials).

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

The travel ban is implemented in two different phases:

 

Phase 1: From 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 24, 2017 until 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

 

Nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.  Nationals of these five countries cannot travel to the US, except for:

 

  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “close family” member in the US.  “Close family” is defined as a parent, including parent-in-law, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, and first-cousin.  For all relationships, half or step status is included (e.g., “half-brother” or “step-sister”).  “Close family” does not include any other “extended” family members.  
  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “U.S. entity.” The relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading the restrictions of the Proclamation. 
  • Those individuals who meet the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below.

 

Phase 2: Beginning 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

 

Nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia:  Designated nationals of these countries cannot travel to the US in any of the immigration statuses listed in the chart above as being prohibited for the particular country, unless (1) they meet one of the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below, or (2) they qualify for a “waiver” allowing travel.  The “bona fide” relationship exception will no longer apply, whether it is a bona fide family relationship or a bona fide US entity relationship.

 

Existing visas are not revoked.  Individuals who have valid visas on the effective date of the applicable “Phase” can use the visa to travel. 

 

The DOS has stated that it will not cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments. 

 

All visa applicants from these countries, and individuals who are traveling to the US using existing visas, can expect enhanced questioning by consular officers and by Customs & Border Protection officers at ports of entry. 

 

EXCEPTIONS TO THE TRAVEL RESTRICITONS

 

The following individuals are not subject to the travel ban and can continue to travel to the US:

 

  • Foreign national in the US on the effective date of the Presidential Proclamation (regardless of immigration status on that date);
  • Foreign national with a valid visa as of the applicable effective date of the Presidential Proclamation for that individual;
  • Lawful permanent residents (i.e. “green card” holders) of the US.  (This appears to directly contradict language in the Proclamation that “immigrants” are subject to the ban);
  • Foreign national admitted or paroled into the US on or after the applicable effective date;
  • Foreign national who have a document other than a visa – such as a transportation letter or advance parole document – valid on the effective date;
  • Any dual national of one of the listed countries, who is also a national or citizen of a different country not listed, provided the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-listed country;
  • Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, NATO visa, C-2 via for travel to the UN, or G-2, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa;
  • Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum to the US; refugees who have already been admitted to the US; or individuals who have been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

 

WAIVERS

 

Immigration officers (whether consular officer or Customs & Border Protection) may, in their discretion, grant waivers based on the following criteria:

 

  • Denying entry would cause undue hardship;
  • Entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the US; and
  • Entry would be in the national interest.

 

The Proclamation provides the following examples of circumstances that may warrant a waiver, permitting travel to the US:

 

  • The foreign national has been previously admitted to the US for a continuous period of work, study or other long-term activity and is seeking to reenter the US to resume that activity and denying reentry would impair that activity;
  • The foreign national has previously established significant contacts within the US but is outside the US on the effective date for work, study or other lawful activity;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g. spouse, child or parent) who is a US citizen, green card holder or alien on a nonimmigrant visa and denial would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
  • The foreign national is an infant, young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstance of the case;
  • The foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the US government;
  • The foreign national is traveling for purposed related to certain international organizations;
  • The foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident;
  • The foreign national is traveling as a US government-sponsored exchange visitor; or
  • The foreign national is traveling to the US at the request of a US government department or agency for law enforcement, foreign policy or national security reasons.

 

These are not guaranteed “waiver” fact patterns.  They are merely examples of fact patterns that “may” warrant a waiver.

 

Adjudication of Petitions by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

 

The Proclamation does not address whether petitions or applications filed with the USCIS by or on behalf of citizens of the listed countries will continue to be processed. 

 

Additional Points

  • The Proclamation states that nationals of Iraq who seek entry will be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the U.S. 
  • Every 180 days the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with other government officials, will submit a report with recommendations to the President, and this list could be “continued, modified, terminated, or supplemented”, including the possibility of adding other countries as deemed necessary
  • The Proclamation does not address the refugee travel/entry ban, which is set to expire on October 24th.

 

[End of Attorney Summary]

 

 

Additional Issues for Individuals with ties to the Listed Countries as of 9/24/17

  • There is no indication in the memo that the USCIS has suspended or will suspend adjudication of petitions or applications for immigration benefits filed by or on behalf of individuals from the listed countries.
  • Nationals of these countries who are currently in the U.S. in valid immigration status will not see their status terminated or otherwise affected, even though they may not be permitted to reenter the U.S. after foreign travel. 

 

Travel

The ISO recommends that individuals from the listed countries carefully consider international travel plans until further notice.  If international travel is necessary, an experienced immigration attorney should be consulted. If abroad, citizens of the listed countries should consult with the local U.S. diplomatic mission before attempting to travel to the U.S.

The language of the P.P. does not reference domestic travel, but out of an abundance of caution, we suggest that students and scholars from the listed countries be prepared for potential delays and increased security screenings.  We recommend that they carry their legal documents including passport, I-20 or DS-2019, I-94 record and EAD card if currently on OPT.  Permanent Residents should carry their passport and Green Card. 

Any traveler who has visited one of the listed countries, who is a green card holder and comes from one of the listed countries, or who is a dual citizen with one country of citizenship being a listed country should be prepared for increased scrutiny at U.S. entry points for the foreseeable future.

Changes to visa issuance policy affecting all non-U.S. citizens

The ability for certain people renewing a nonimmigrant visa to skip the interview process has been eliminated for those whose expirations exceed 12 months.  In the past, some applicants for nonimmigrant visas were able to skip an in-person interview at the Consulate if they were applying to extend an existing visa.  Under the Executive Order, the circumstances under which a waiver of the interview may be granted are now more limited. 

The State Department has confirmed that the interview waiver program still applies to applicants aged 14 and under and 79 and older.  They have also confirmed that it still applies to applicants who were issued visas that expired less than 12 months ago in the same category as they are currently seeking.  Individual consulates always reserve the ability to require an interview, even for individuals otherwise eligible for a waiver of the interview.  Travel plans should be made accordingly. 

Possible Expansion of List of Countries Subject to Travel Restrictions

It is possible that the list of countries impacted by P.P. issued on September 24, 2017 could be expanded in the future. For this reason, the ISO recommends that all students and scholars check the DHS and Department of State web sites for updates, confer with the ISO, and regularly turn to reliable sources of news if they are considering international travel.

Contact the ISO (+1 434 982 3010, Minor Hall 208) if you have questions about travel, the this Predidential Actionr, your visa status, or related issues.

Complete Text of the Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats, 9/24/17

U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Alert - on Presidential Proclamation 9/24/17

U.S. Immigration Definitions

 

 

Memos on Immigration Enforcement:  February 20, 2017

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued two Memos relating to immigration enforcement.

Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies

Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest

Students, scholars, faculty and staff who are foreign nationals should pay close attention to these agency directives as they can directly affect you. This includes permanent residents (green card holders) as well as temporary non-resident immigrants (holders of a visa such as an H-1B, E3, O-1, F-1 or J-1 visa).

  • DHS has prioritized certain individuals subject to removal from the US.
  • In order be included on the “removal priority” list, an individual must first be “removable” from the US.  Those who qualify as “removable” include anyone who has violated his/her legal status* in any way, through non-compliance with their visa type or immigration status.  For example, F-1 student visa holders who drop below required course loads without ISO authorization, or who work without authorization can be considered removable. 

Faculty/staff who fall out of legal status (even inadvertently) or overstay the end date on the I-94 record render themselves removable.

In order to avoid being placed in removal proceedings, it is critical that international students, scholars, faculty, and staff  maintain their legal status in the United States at all times. This also applies to dependents.

*Legal status: compliance with conditions of visa type/immigration status.

  •   The “priority removal” list includes:

-Anyone convicted of a crime
-Anyone charged with a crime
-Anyone who has committed an act which would constitute a criminal offense (even if not charged)
-Anyone who has engaged in fraud or misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a government agency
-Anyone who has abused a program related to receipt of public benefits
-Anyone who has been ordered removed from the US but has not left
-Anyone who, in the judgment of an immigration officer, poses a risk to public safety or national security
 

  • The DHS has indicated that it will seek to extend “expedited removal” proceedings nationwide, rather than just within 100 miles of a border.  If this occurs, people who are unable to show evidence of lawful immigration status in the US could potentially face expedited removal from the US without a hearing.  This makes it imperative that individuals carry proof of legal status with them at all times. 

-F-1 students should carry passports, I-20, printed copies of I-94, proof of health insurance, and for OPT, EADs and Job Offer letters.
-J-1 students and scholars should carry passports, DS-2019, proof of health insurance, and printed copies of I-94
-Students on other visa categories should carry passport, proof of health insurance, and printed copies of I-94
-Faculty and staff using temporary visas should carry passports, I-797 approval notices, and printed copies of I-94
-Permanent residents should carry their passports and green cards.
-Enter the U.S. in the correct visa status. Do NOT use your tourist visa.
-Photocopy all documents required to prove legal status and keep at least one set in a secure location.

  • DHS has been directed to hire 10,000 new Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, and 5,500 new Customs & Border Protection officers.  With the anticipated increase in new hires, foreign nationals must be prepared to demonstrate their legal status at any time.

Additional Executive Orders and Memos on Immigration and Travel
ISO and partner offices will update this Information Sheet and FAQ and communicate with members of the international community if and when any new Executive Orders or DHS Memos on immigration and travel are published.

What should you do if you are detained at the airport?
Immigration officers have always had broad discretionary powers to determine admissibility to the U.S. Make sure you have all of your legal documents: a passport valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry, a valid F or J Visa, an I-20 or DS-2019 signed within the last 6 months for travel, printed copies of I-94, proof of health insurance, and EADs and Job Offer Letter (OPT candidates).

Carry the phone numbers of the ISO and of your embassy when you travel. If you are detained, call our office when it is possible to do so, or have the immigration officer or your embassy contact us on your behalf. The main ISO office line is available 24/7: +1 434-982-3010. You always have the right to contact your embassy.

Review of the H-1B Visa Program
On April 18, 2017, an Executive Order was issued by the White House entitled “Buy American Hire American”.  While the Order did address the H-1B visa program, it did not include provisions that would substantially impact the existing program, or the current beneficiaries of H-1B visa status at the University.

University Human Resources Compliance & Immigration Services staff expect that the primary impact of the Order will be in the form of enhanced scrutiny of H-1B applicants for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates, resulting in increased processing times,  and a further slowing of processing of H-1B petitions by USCIS.  Additionally, as a result of the Order, Universities may experience increased enforcement activity in the form of site visits by USCIS officers. 

Please do not hesitate to contact HR Compliance and Immigration Services, immigration@virginia.edu, with questions about the new Executive Order, particularly if you are planning travel abroad, or during preparation for submission of a request for H-1B status sponsored by the University. 

UHR Compliance & Immigration Services staff recognize that the continuing changes to the immigration environment are challenging for our foreign national community and hope that through a combination of accurate information, availability of support resources, and a caring and engaged University community, they can assist in navigating the disruption.

What resources are available to me at the University of Virginia, and where can I go for more help and information?

·         The International Studies Office, 434-982-3010, available 24/7

·         The Office of the Dean of Students: 434-924-7133; Dean on Call for emergency assistance on weekends and after hours: 434-924-7166

·         Just Report It, to report incidents of bias, hazing, or sexual or gender-based violence: http://www.virginia.edu/justreportit/

·         Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), 434-243-5150; for after hours and weekend crisis assistance: 434-297-4261

·         Multicultural Student Services & the Multicultural Student Center, Lower Level of Newcomb Hall. Programs and services to empower students in their identity, build community, and provide holistic support for diverse students.

·        Office of Human Resources Compliance and Immigration Services, 434-982-0123.

Other Resources

1. Turn to reliable sources for information, including the ISO, and major newspapers and news outlets (e.g., Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, BBC America).

2. The ACLU has a wealth of information about your civil rights on their website. Check out their information on your basic rights here.

3. American Immigrations Lawyers Association website.

4. Statement from Virginia's Secretary of Education - 2/3/17

5. UVA President, Provost Address Immigration Issues - 1/29/17

6. UVA Faculty Senate-General Faculty Council Statement on Immigration Executive Order - 2/1/17

7. FAQ on EO of 3/6/17 - Provided by Attorney Mark Rhoads, McCandlish Holton Morris, Counsel on Federal Immigration Law.

8. Office of the President Timeline of UVA Events Before and After the Executive Orders