Immigration Policy Updates and FAQs

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.

For more information, see the following pages:

   Executive Orders   Travel and Visa Policy   Employment-related Policy   FAQ

Latest Updates

USCIS Expands Policy on Initiating Removal Proceedings

October 30, 2018

A June 28, 2018, USCIS policy memorandum (PM 602-0050.1) expands conditions under which USCIS issues a Notice to Appear (NTA), the document that begins removal (deportation) proceedings. The policy now includes situations "where, upon issuance of an unfavorable decision on an application, petition, or benefit request, the alien is not lawfully present in the United States."

USCIS RFE & NOID Policy Effective Sept 11, 2018

September 27, 2018

A USCIS poilcy memo issued July 13, 2018 will allow USCIS adjudictors "full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE [Request for Evidence] or a NOID [Notice of Intent to Deny], when appropriate.

USCIS Unlawful Presence Policy Effective August 9, 2018

September 24, 2018

Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS updated policy regarding Unlawful Presence, which increases potential consequences for F-1/J-1 students who violate their status.  The best way to avoid these consequences is to make sure you properly maintain your F-1/J-1 status while you are a student  and during any F-1/J-1 post-completion training periods.

4/10/2018- Chad Removed from Travel Ban List

April 16, 2018

 Presidential Proclamation on April 10, 2018 , has removed Chad from the Travel Ban list effective April 13, 2018 due to a Department of Homeland Security review which found that "that Chad has made marked improvements in its identity-management and information-sharing practices."

3/28/2018- Updates on H-1B Premium Processing

March 28, 2018
H1-B Premium Processing continues to be available for UC Berkeley sponsored H-1B petitions, as the University is not subject to the FY 2019 cap. Premium processing will be suspended temporarily for H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2019 cap. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. For more details please see the USCIS announcement on March 20, 2018.

12/04/2017 - Travel Restrictions in Effect after Supreme Court Decision

December 4, 2017

On December 4, 2017 the Supreme Court of the United States issued  stays on 2 previous preliminary injunctions impacting the September 24, 2017  

Non-Immigrant Visa Processing Resumes in Turkey

November 8, 2017
US non-immigrant visa services have resumed at the U.S. embassy and consulates in Turkey,on a limited basis with a reduced number of available appointments
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 essential travel that requires a visa application, please information available from from the U.S. Mission in Turkey:

Continuing Litigation Upholds Blocks on Enforcement of Proclamation 9645

November 3, 2017

Preliminary injunctions from U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland continue to block enforcement of travel bans for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, but leaves in place the Proclamation's bars on Venezuela and North Korea.  The U.S. government is expected to continue appeals. See NAFSA's Entry Ban Litigation Updates for more information.

10/9/2017 - Suspension of U.S. Non-Immigrant Visa Services in Turkey

October 9, 2017

This is to alert you of the suspension of visa services at the U.S. embassy and consulates in Turkey. Until further notice, it is not possible to apply for a non-immigrant visa in Turkey. 

Sept 24, 2017 - Proclamation: Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

September 26, 2017
On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation entitled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats (click here for BIO's detailed summary) . This Proclamation partially or fully restricts entry into the United States for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. The proclamation contains specific provisions for each impacted country, as summarized below. The new restrictions established by the proclamation take effect October 18, 2017.

8/21/17 DOS Suspends Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

August 21, 2017

The U.S. diplomatic mission to Russia announced on August 21, 2017, that "Due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, all nonimmigrant visa operations across Russia will be suspended on August 23. Operations will resume in Moscow on September 1; visa operations at the U.S. consulates will remain suspended indefinitely.

6/28/17 - Department of State Clarifies Exemptions, DHS & CBP Issue FAQs for Travelers

June 29, 2017

June 28 U.S. Department of State cable provides guidance for consular officers regarding implementation of Executive Order 13780 (E.O.) in visa issuance and exemptions from the suspension of entry. Notably, the cable seems to indicate that F-1, J-1, H1-B, TN, O-1, and Permanent Residents would appear to be exempt from the travel ban.

6/26/17 - Supreme Court Decision on Executive Order 13780 “Travel Ban.”

June 26, 2017
On June 26, 2017 The Supreme Court of the United States granted the U.S. government’s request for a stay of the previous lower court preliminary injunctions to the Executive Order 13780 “Travel Ban.” The Supreme Court will hear the final case in October 2017. The current Supreme Court decision upholds the travel ban for nationals or citizens of the 6 designated countries of Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen- but creates an important exception for “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” which appears to include UC Berkeley students, scholars, and employees.

3/03/17 - Temporary Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing

March 3, 2017

United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced 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. Read BIO's announcement on this change.

3/06/17 - Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States

March 6, 2017

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.

3/29/2017 - Multiple Preliminary Injunctions Issued for Executive Order Travel Ban

March 29, 2017

On March 29, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Hawai'i converted its March 15, 2017 temporary restraining order (valid for a maximum of 14 days), into a preliminary injunction, which continues to block enforcement of all of Sections 2 and 6.

4/18/17 - Executive Order: Buy American and Hire American

April 18, 2017
President Trump issued an Executive Order titled Buy America and Hire American, of which the "Hire American" provisions call on the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security to "propose new rules and issue new guidance", and "suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries." **However, the EO provided no specific changes to any existing regulations, rules and policies.**

3/17/17 - Increased Screening of Visa Applicants

March 17, 2017
On March 17, 2017, the U.S. Dept. of State issued cables to all diplomatic and consular posts providing instructions for increased scrutiny for visa applicants. Individuals subject to these security clearances can expect extremely long visa processing times ranging from 2-6 months or more.

3/15/17 - Temporary Restraining Order & Preliminary Injunctions Issued for Executive Order Travel Ban

March 15, 2017

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.