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, Sudan, Syria and the Ukraine-Crimea Region.
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 the
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.**
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.
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.