Berkeley International Office recognizes that the change in administration may raise many questions and concerns for our students, scholars, and employees. The transition to a new administration brings with it changes in leadership within government departments and agencies, and the possibility for changes in policy or regulations. BIO has developed this FAQ to provide information and support resources to UC Berkeley students and scholars. Please feel free to contact your BIO Advisers with questions or concerns, or to be redirected to resources that best support your needs.

Current Situation

Update 3/15/2017 - Temporary Restraining Order & Preliminary Injunctions Issued for Executive Order Travel Ban

The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii issued a nationwide Temporary Restraining Order on sections 2 and 6 of the new Executive Order 13780 which was to take effect March 16, 2017.Sections 2 and 6 of the new EO barred entry for 90 days individuals without valid visas from particular countries of origin (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) and entry for 120 days for refugees. Enforcement of these sections of the EO is currently prohibited  in the U.S., at U.S. Borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas pending further court orders.  Additionally, on March 16, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Maryland issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on section 2c of  Executive Order 1378, also preventing the Government from enforcing the 90-day entry bar. See NAFSA's EO Entry Ban Litigation Updates page for more information on all ongoing litigation. 

Keep in mind other sections of the EO will remain in effect, including suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program, increased screenings, and reviews of U.S. immigration policy. Due to the fluid nature of the situation, BIO continues to urge extreme caution in travel for individuals from the impacted countries. For impacted individuals, please consult with BIO and your legal counsel before any international travel. BIO also continues to recommend all other individuals to minimize non-essential international travel.

March 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States

On March 6, 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States  scheduled to take effect on March 16, 2017. This Executive Order replaces and revokes the prior Executive Order 13769 which had been issued on January 27, 2017. As with the prior Executive Order, this new Executive Order contains provisions that directly affect our student and scholar populations, along with the departments who host them. It contains provisions that seriously impact the entry into the United States of individuals without valid visas from particular countries of origin (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen)Additionally, effects of the Executive Order's increased screening procedures will likely have an impact on travel for many non-immigrant visa holders.

The order issued on March 6th does exclude from the suspension several categories of foreign nationals including United States permanent residents, those with dual nationality traveling with a passport from a non-designated country, those who held valid visas on January 27, 2017, and those who hold valid visas on the date of implementation of the new order, March 16, 2017. In addition, the new Executive Order does not include Iraq in the list of designated countries. 

The Department of Homeland Security website includes a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding the Executive Order.

Also see BIO's summary of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order.

Immigration Policy

Increased Screening of Visa Applicants

The U.S. Dept. of State has recently issued cables to all diplomatic and consular posts providing instructions for increased scrutiny for visa applicants.  The first cable focused on individuals from specific countries and outlined screening steps consular officers were to take but those processes are on hold due to the courts suspension of the Presidential Executive Orders.  The more recent cable directs consular officers worldwide to focus on post specific populations that warrant increased screening. 

Included in this population are individuals who may have been present in an ISIS controlled territory including Iraq.  Individuals may face additional questions, and social media review. Individuals subject to these security clearances can expect extremely long visa processing times ranging from 2-6 months or more. 

Additionally, the cables instructs all consular posts to limit the number of visa interviews per day to 120, which is expected to create backlogs for all applicants.

See the March 17 DOS cable 25814 for more details. This cable supersedes Cable 24324, which contains provisions regarding applicants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.  

H1-B Processing Suspended

United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced(link is external) on Friday, March 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after April 3, 2017. According to USCIS, this temporary suspension will help them reduce overall H-1B processing times, which are currently running close to 9 months. To our knowledge, this temporary suspension is unrelated to any recently announced Executive Orders.

Read BIO's announcement(link is external) on this change.

Resources

Please see BIO's summary of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order.

Also refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Executive Order Resources page and Travel Advisory for detailed up-to-date information.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks issued this message on Trump's travel ban.

See the Department of Homeland Security's Frequently Asked Questions page, which addresses traveler questions specific to the rule.Customs and Border Protection  provides information about entry at CBP INFO Center. On the webpage, travelers may also request additional guidance by clicking on the ‘Email us your Question' button. Department of State has an official announcement and FAQ addressing visa questions related to the Executive Order.

The University of California has collected information and resources on the immigration ban.

See the University of California FAQ for University Employees about Federal Enforcement Actions on University Property.