Immigration Policy Changes FAQ

1. How will the results of the election affect my immigration status?

Over the last 4 years, the Trump administration has proposed and instituted policies that have negatively impacted international students, scholars, and employees. If Donald Trump is re-elected, we can expect this pattern to continue. However, changes to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, ongoing lawsuits, and legal challenges may succeed in blocking or minimizing impactful policies, as we’ve witnessed since Trump’s election.

If Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, is elected we would anticipate the possible easing of more restrictive immigration policies. But, please be aware that these changes may not be immediate, and would be subject to the Biden administration’s priorities. Many of the policy changes that have occurred over the course of the Trump administration may take a long time to be overturned. The Biden administration would not begin until January 2021, and we could still face continuing last-minute policy changes until that point. 

Regardless of the outcome of the elections, BIO will continue to serve as an advocate for international education and will support you into the future in whatever we can.

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

2. Can I travel outside the U.S.? Can I get my visa renewed? I am a citizen of X country, am I allowed to travel?

For the near future, Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration's policies on visas and U.S. entry. Should you have concerns about immediate or essential international travel or visa renewal, contact BIO to consult an advisor. 

See above for current updates and travel information regarding Executive Orders, Presidential Proclamations, continuing litigation and travel impacts.

Also refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Executive Order Resources page and Travel Advisory.

3. How will the results of the election impact students from certain affected areas of the world or student/scholars in particular religious groups?

Please see above for continuing updates on the implementation and any ongoing litation regarding current Travel Bans. 
BIO supports our diverse student, scholar and employee populations and is continuing to monitor this situation closely. We will provide updated information through this website and email updates. Should you have any immediate concerns please contact BIO to speak with an adviser.

4. Will I still have / OPT/ STEM/J-1 Student Academic Training available when I graduate? Will the H1-B program be cancelled? Will the Fulbright program or the J visa program disappear? Will the J-1 2-Year Home Residency Requirement significantly change?

At this time, there is no information regarding what actual changes we will see in the future for any particular visa category. Current regulations remain in place, until any changes the new administration chooses to make. Be aware that changes in laws or regulations take time and will have advance warning.

Changes in policy or guidance and executive orders may happen more quickly and may take effect immediately. BIO will continue to monitor any decisions impacting our student and scholar populations, and will provide updated information as it is available through this website and via email. 

5. What are Berkeley International Office and the University of California doing to advocate for international students, scholars and employees?

BIO 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.

On a national level, BIO works in partnership with the UC Berkeley Government and Community Relations team and the University of California's Office of Federal Governmental Relations to advocate for regulations and policies supportive of our international community. Additionally, BIO works for advocacy through our membership in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.

The University of California has collected information and resources on the immigration ban, including their published responseUC Berkeley Government and Community Relations is also working with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) to coordinate our advocacy on immigration issues. UC Berkeley unequivocally supports our international students, scholars, and employees and is pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. 

6. Where can I find support if I have immigration or concerns? Support for anxiety or stress? Support specifically for election-related stress?

Please visit BIO with any F-1/J-1 immigration concerns or questions. Our Advisers provide a welcoming, safe environment to explore any worries you may have related to your visa status, as well as explore options and benefits available your current or future plans. For complex issues beyond our scope, we can assist you in finding a referral for an immigration attorney.

Berkeley International Office understands that the results of the presidential election will have broad impacts on the United States, current U.S. immigration policies, and the cultural and political climate that our international students, scholars and employees encounter. Leading up to the election, and following the election, we encourage our international community to seek resources to support their mental health and well-being as we navigate this period of anxiety and change. Here are a few resources that may be helpful to you during this time:

In general, UC Berkeley and EAP students can access resources through Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), including individual confidential counseling appointments, groups, self-help tools, and more. Here are some options for accessing support from CPS:

  • Drop-in is crisis counseling is available 10am – 5pm Mon – Friday. No cost and no need for an appointment
  • Make an appointment with a counselor by calling 642-9494. Let us know if you would like to meet with a specific counselor or counselor from a particular background
  • Drop-in consultation is available at satellite locations, For a schedule visit https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/letstalk.pdf
  • Support during weekends and evenings (when CPS is closed) – Call 855-817-5667

UC Berkeley employees and Visiting Scholars or postdocs can find support through the Employee Assistance Program  which provides free, confidential counseling and referrals. You can also contact Employee Assistance at 643-7754 with questions or to make an appointment.

See the Counseling & Psychological Services Response to Recent Events webpage for useful support resources during this time of continuing change.

7. Where can Undocumented Students find support? What advocacy efforts are being made in support of DACA?

The DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) program is being rescinded, however recently issued DHS Memo and FAQ on DAPA indicate that DACA will remain in effect. The Undocumented Students Program provides a wealth of information, legal support and resources and has been updated with FAQs and planning for post-election issues, inclduing summaries of all current Executive Orders. University of California President Janet Napolitano joined California State University Chancellor Timothy White and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor-designate of the California Community College System, in calling upon President Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allow California Dreamers to continue to pursue their education in the United States.

NAFSA's Deferred Action for Chilhood Arrivals resource page provides detailed tracking the current state of issues for DACA.

8. What can I do if I or someone I know is target of, or witness to, a hate crime or hate-motivated act? Where can I report an incident of harassment or violence?

If you have witnessed or experienced intimidation, harassment, or violence against individuals and targeted groups you can file a report with UC Police Department.  The Centers for Justice & Community Engagement offers resources for reporting hate crimes or hate motivated acts, including links to confidential and non-confidential support resources for students, faculty, staff and visiting scholars.

9. What are my rights and how can I protect myself? How can I help other students, scholars, or employees?

NAFSA has posted a webpage on Resources for Rights in Encounters with Law Enforcement some links to resources that may be useful for students, scholars or employees who have questions about their civil rights while in the U.S. NAFSA's blog post on Tips for Surviving in a Time of Immigration Uncertainty offers an FAQ covering a range of topics in this area as well.

The American Civil Liberties Union has a series of Know Your Rights resources available on topics of immigration status, being stopped by police, attending demonstrations/protests, and anti-Muslim discrimination. The Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement pamphet offers specific advice about airports and ports of entry.

Counseling and Psychological Services Look for the Signs website can help you to support students or scholars in distress. Violence Prevention & Bystander Intervention Initiatives in the Dean of Student's Office offers a range of opportunities to educate and empower members of the Cal community to prevent harm and violence in all of its forms.

The  University of California has provided a detailed FAQ for members of the UC community concerned about immigration enforcement actions occurring across the country. See the University of California FAQ for University Employees about Federal Enforcement Actions on University Property.

10. What things could currently jeopardize my status?

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. (The American Civil Liberties Union has a series of Know Your Rights resources available including being stopped by police, and attending demonstrations/protests.) Please think carefully before engaging in protest activities, as arrests can seriously impact immigration status or future visa applications. If you do choose to engage, BIO encourages you to review UC Berkeley's suggestions regarding how to protest safely. Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status.

Also 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 due can lead to severe immigration consequences ranging from fines, visa cancellation to deportation.

If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact Berkeley International Office immediately. In such cases, we urge you to retain immigration legal counsel to advise you as to next steps and possible consequences. UC Berkeley Student Legal Services provides legal resources related to California law for enrolled students, but cannot advise on immigration issues. BIO can provide you with  immigration legal referrals.

BIO Student Advisers are available for Drop-In Advising hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am-12pm & 1:00-4:00pm. Advising for J-1 Visiting Scholars, Professors, Researchers and Student Researchers is available by appointment only, by calling (510) 642-2818.

11. How will the Buy American and Hire American EO (issued April 18, 2017) affect the H-1B program?

Although this EO calls for new rules, guidance and reforms for our immigration system including the H-1B program, and strict enforcement of immigration laws including through the prevention of fraud and abuse, no specific changes to any existing regulations, rules and policies have been provided, and no definite timeline for these potential changes have been included.