Immigration Policy Updates and FAQs

Latest Updates

Update: Dept. of State Expansion of Visa Interview Waivers for F/J Applicants

September 15, 2021

As of Sept. 14, 2021 the U.S Department of State has announced a continuing expansion of waivers for in-person visa interviews for F and J visa applicants through the end of 2021. The announcement indicates: "Consular officers may, if they so choose, and pursuant to local conditions, now waive the visa interview requirement for F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never...

USCIS Revokes Change of Status to F-1 "Bridge Application" Policy

July 30, 2021

Effective July 20, 2021, USCIS eliminated a prior policy that required applicants applying to change their status to F-1 student to file "bridge" applications while their change of status to F-1 applications were pending. USCIS issued a July 20, 2021 news release and updated their...

USCIS Processing Flexibilities for OPT/STEM OPT Applications

July 30, 2021

USCIS announced on 7/29/2021 and 2/26/2021 flexibilities for OPT/STEM OPT Extension applicants affected by delayed receipt notices for the Form I-765. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after October 1, 2020, through October 31, 2021. See more information on our...

Suspension of travel from India

April 30, 2021

On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a new proclamation suspending indefinitely the entry into the U.S. as nonimmigrants of noncitizens who pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus disease. Except for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and...

National Interest Exceptions for China, Iran, Brazil, the U.K., Ireland, and the European Schengen area

April 27, 2021

On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of State extended the National Interest Exceptions to include additional countries. The NIE list now includes China, Iran, Brazil, the U.K., Ireland, and the European Schengen area.

Students with valid F-1 visas intending to begin or continue their academic program commencing...

August 2019 Public Charge Rule no longer in effect

March 11, 2021

As a result of ongoing litigation around the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s August 14, 2019 final rule on public charge grounds of inadmissibility, DHS announced on March 9, 2021 through a press release that "the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources." It goes on to state that, “As a result, the ...

USCIS Processing Updates for 12-Month OPT Applications and STEM OPT Extension Applications

March 2, 2021

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently been experiencing serious delays in processing and receipting OPT. USCIS announced on 2/26/2021 flexibilities for OPT applicants who may be affected by delayed receipt notices for the Form I-765, which is used for filing OPT/STEM OPT. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1,...

COVID Testing Requirements for Entry to the U.S. Effective January 26, 2021

January 28, 2021

On January 21, 2021 President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, which directs relevant agencies to assess a prior January 12, 2021 CDC order requiring a negative COVID-19 test result for airline passengers traveling into the United States, and, based on that...

COVID Travel Ban Updates for South Africa, UK, Ireland, Brazil, Schengen Area

January 25, 2021

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed a new proclamation suspending indefinitely the entry into the U.S. of immigrants and non-immigrants who pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus disease.

Except for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent...

Proclamation On Ending Discriminatory Bans On Entry To The United States

January 22, 2021

On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order entitled, “Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States," which revoked previous Executive Orders that prevented certain individuals from entering the United States. These previous Executive Orders that have now been revoked applied certain conditions of entry for individuals from different countries. ...

Special Airline Boarding Requirements for Flights to China

November 12, 2020

Starting on November 6, 2020, all Chinese and foreign passengers bound for China will be required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests and apply for a green health code with the "HS" mark or a certified health declaration form before boarding the flight.Please review the Notice on Airline Boarding Requirements information carefully from the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., follow any necessary instructions, and check with your airline carrier if you need to...

DHS Proposed Rule for Elimination of "Duration of Status" (D/S)

September 29, 2020

On Friday September 25, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule that seeks to eliminate the practice of Duration Of Status and replace it with a date certain I-94 end date among other changes. What this means is that instead of being admitted for the duration of the program of study (D/S), individuals applying for admission in either F or J status would be admitted for the length of time...

DHS Dismisses Unlawful Presence Policy

July 31, 2020

On July 31, 2020 DHS filed a motion to dismiss its own appeal of a decision about Unlawful Presence for Fs and Js. For now, USCIS has returned to applying prior policy guidance based on its unlawful presence memo issued on May 6, 2009. Under...

U.S. Sanctions Laws

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has established regulations that prohibit U.S. persons (including the University of California) from providing services - including remote educational services - to individuals in certain sanctioned countries without a general or specific license. The list of OFAC sanctioned countries currently includes: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and the Ukraine-Crimea Region

In order to avoid violating that law, UC Berkeley is taking...

Presidential Proclamation Affecting Chinese Nationals FAQ

collapse all expand all What does “military-civil fusion strategy” mean?

Under the proclamation, "the term “military-civil fusion strategy” means actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities."

Who are entities in the PRC that...

Presidential Proclamation: Brazil Travel Suspension

May 24, 2020

Effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on May 26, 2020, the entry into the United States of any foreign national (except immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others excluded in section 2 of the Presidential Proclamation who was physically present within Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or...

Presidential Proclamation Suspends Certain New Immigrant Entries- NO IMPACT to F/J Students & Scholars, Current Faculty/Staff

April 23, 2020

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020 the President issued a proclamation suspending the entry of certain new immigrants for 60 days.

Who is NOT impacted by the proclamation?Nonimmigrant visa holders including F-1 students, J-1 Exchange Visitors, H-1B, TN and O-1 workers are NOT impacted. The proclamation DOES NOT impact ...

U.S. Travel Restrictions Announced for Canada & Mexico

March 20, 2020

A Federal Register notice announces the decision to temporarily limit the travel of individuals from Canada into the United States at land ports of entry along the United States-Canada border to “essential travel.” “Essential travel” includes “Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; Individuals traveling to work in...

Suspension of Routine Visa Services At U.S. Embassies and Consulates

March 20, 2020

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. They will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this...

Presidential Proclamation: United Kingdom and Ireland Travel Suspension

March 14, 2020

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time, the entry into the United States of any foreign national (except immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others excluded in section 2 of the Presidential Proclamation) who was physically present within the the United Kingdom (excluding...

Presidential Proclamation: Europe Schengen Area Travel Suspension

March 12, 2020

Effective Friday, March 13 at 11:59 p.m. eastern standard time, the entry into the United States of any foreign national (except immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others excluded in section 2 of the proclamation) who was physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or...

Presidential Proclamation: Iran Travel Suspension

March 2, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Effective Monday, March 2nd at 5 p.m. eastern standard time, the U.S. government will deny the entry into the U.S. of any foreign national (except immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents) who were physically present within the Islamic Republic of Iran within the last 14 days. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020.

BIO is closely monitoring the current...

Presidential Proclamation: China Travel Suspension

January 31, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:Effective Sunday, February 2nd at 5 p.m. eastern standard time, the U.S. government will deny the entry into the U.S. of any foreign national (except immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents) who has traveled in China within the last 14 days (excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau).

BIO is closely monitoring the current coronavirus outbreak and...

Jan 31, 2020 Presidential Proclamation "Travel Ban" Does Not Impact Student Visa Category

January 31, 2020
On January 31, 2020 President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation entitled Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry to take effect on February 21, 2020. This Presidential Proclamation restricts entry on immigrant visas for citizens and nationals of Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and entry as Diversity Immigrants for citizens and nationals of Sudan and Tanzania. Note that this DOES NOT include F or J student or scholar visa categories.

Public Charge Rule Implementation Date Feb 24, 2020

January 31, 2020

USCIS announced that it will implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule on Feb. 24, 2020, except in Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court as of Jan. 30, 2020. The final rule will apply only to applications postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after Feb.24, 2020. When determining whether an individual is likely to become a public charge at any time in the future, DHS will not consider application for, certification or approval to receive, or receipt of certain...

Public Charge

November 21, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) recently published new federal regulations regarding “public charge,” which is an evaluation of whether a foreign national is likely to need financial support from the U.S. or state government while they are in the U.S. The rules may impact students and scholars who apply for admission to the U.S. for a U.S. visa, for a change of immigration status within the U.S., adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card), or for an extension of status for certain other nonimmigrant categories....

Judge Temporarily Blocks Enforcement of USCIS F, M, and J Unlawful Presence Policy

May 3, 2019
On May 3, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that temporarily prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) August 8, 2018 policy memo that changed how days of unlawful presence are counted following F or J non-immigrant status violations. Due to the prelimiary injunction, DHS is temporaily restricted from enforcing the new unlawful presence policy while the case is being resolved. The Court has set an expedited briefing schedule to file briefs and cross-motions for summary judgment by the end of May 2019. For more detailed information, see NAFSA's summary of the Unlawful Presence policy and ongoing litigation

Final H1-B Cap Filing & Processing Rule Published

February 7, 2019

The US Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule titled "Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens" which becomes effective April 1, 2019 which is the first day of the 2020 cap-filing season. Part of the rule which related to a pre-registration requirement for employers has been suspended for the 2020 filing season, but is...

Government Shutdown 2019

January 7, 2019

The US government shutdown may impact certain government services until a resolution is reached. NAFSA's Government Shutdown Updates page has updated links to services which might impact student, scholar, or employment-based status holders.

Berkeley International Office is aware that Customs and Border Protection Deferred Inspections office in San Francisco has been impacted by the shutdown, and appointments for Deferred Inspection are currently unavailable.

...

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."

Due to a legal necessity...

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. This policy is intended to discourage frivolous or substantially incomplete filings used as 'placeholder' filings and encourage applicants, petitioners, and requestors to be diligent in collecting and submitting...

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. Unlawful presence days begin accruing from the day an F-1 or J-1 violates status and can impact the ability to return to the US in the future,...

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

April 16, 2018

A 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 stayson 2 previous preliminary injunctions impacting the September 24, 2017 ...

11/13/2017 - 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Partial Stay of Travel Ban Injunction

November 16, 2017
On Nov 13, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a partial stay of the Hawaii preliminary injunction on travel ban Proclamation 9645. The partial stay continues to block the travel ban for citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia only if they can establish that they have "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a...

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.

10/17/2017 - U.S. District Court in Hawaii issues Temporary Restraining Order to Block Implementation of Proclamation 9645​

October 17, 2017
On Oct 17, 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 Sept 24, 2017 travel ban Proclamation 9645. This Temporary Restraining Order blocks...

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.

In a statement from the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Ambassador John Bass indicates that this suspension of services is not a visa ban nor a travel ban for Turkish citizens. If you already have a valid visa, the visa remains valid: https://tr.usembassy.gov/...

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. Currently scheduled appointments will be cancelled and applicants will be provided instructions on how to...

7/14/17 - Hawaii District Court Exempts Grandparents and Other Family Members from Travel Ban, New DOS Cable Provides EO Compliance Timeline

July 14, 2017
On July 13, 2017 the U.S. Federal District Court in Hawaii issued a ruling exempting a new group of close family members from the EO 13780. The court rules that the State Departments interpretation of "close family relationship" was too narrow and orders to government to exclude from the travel ban "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States " as well as...

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

June 29, 2017

A 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. Berkeley...

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. As with the prior Executive Order, this new Executive Order contains provisions that directly affect our student and scholar...

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. 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...

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.**

Travel Policy Updates

This page collects updates on U.S. Government policy changes regarding travel and visas.

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.

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. 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...

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