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Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Advocacy Toolkit for Proposed Rule Eliminating Duration of Status

Posted on: October 15th, 2020 by blair

On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed regulation that would establish fixed end dates on student and exchange visitor visas, and many other changes.  Currently, international students and scholars may stay in the United States for the duration of their program, with some PhD programs having a standard length of 7 years.  At UM, 72% of Doctoral students take longer than 4 years to complete a degree.  Under this proposal, individuals applying to either F or J status would be limited to a 4 year stay.

Additionally, some international students and scholars would be limited to 2 years based on certain factors, including birth or citizenship in specific countries.  Students and scholars of the targeted countries are almost exclusively persons of color and are disproportionately nationals of African countries.

If individuals were to need additional time to complete their program, including requests for legal work authorization after graduation, or would like to start a new degree or academic program, they would have to pay a fee and apply for an extension of stay to the USCIS and the application could be accepted or rejected.  This proposed rule creates an unwelcoming and uncertain environment for international students and scholars.

This proposed rule is open for public comments until October 26, 2020.  After the DHS considers the comments, it would draft a final rule and submit that to the Office of Management and Budget for review.  Only after that could a final rule be published.  Litigation could temporarily or permanently stop the final rule from taking effect.

 

HOW CAN I SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS BY OPPOSING THIS PROPOSED REGULATION?

Any member of the UM community can submit a public comment by Monday, October 26. 

Perspectives:

  • International students and scholars can say how the implementation of this rule will impact them and would have impacted them if it were in place when they were making decisions about choosing a university to study, teach or do research.
  • Non international students and scholars can state how they view this rule and how their university experience would change if it were implemented.  For example, US citizen students would have fewer diverse perspectives in the classroom, be it fellow classmates or instructors.  Research projects that rely on diverse and innovative teams of graduate students and/or international scholars would be impacted.
  • UM community members who may have originally come to the US as an F or J student or scholar may wish to write a personal comment based on their story and how this rule would have changed the course of their life, perhaps away from the US completely.
  • See UM’s Public Comment on Regulations.gov

 

Registered voters can speak out publicly against the proposed rule by contacting their representatives.

 

Additional Resources:

 

HOW TO SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT:

Comments on the proposed rule must be identified by DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006, and submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comment Now! button appears at the upper right corner of the proposed rule on Regulations.gov, at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DHS_FRDOC_0001-1933. Follow the website instructions to submit comments.  Comments must be received by October 26, 2020. (If that link takes you to an error page on the beta.regulations.gov site, go to https://beta.regulations.gov/document/ICEB-2019-0006-0001).

The Federal Register notice states:

“Comments submitted in a manner other than the one listed above, including emails or letters sent to DHS or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, will not be considered comments on the proposed rule and may not receive a response from DHS.”

and:

“I. Public Participation

DHS encourages all interested parties to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, comments and arguments on all aspects of this proposed rule. DHS also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this proposed rule. Under the guidelines of the Office of the Federal Register, all properly submitted comments will be posted to http://www.regulations.gov as part of the public record and will include any personal information you have provided. See the ADDRESSES section for information on how to submit comments. A. Submitting Comments

You must submit your comments in English or provide an English translation. The most helpful comments will reference a specific portion of the proposed rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority supporting the recommended change. If you submit comments, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (ICEB-2019-0006), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and materials online. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, ICE has temporarily suspended its ability to receive public comments by mail.

Instructions: To submit your comments online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Comment Now!” box and input your comment in the text box provided. Click the “Continue” box, and, if you are satisfied with your comment, follow the prompts to submit it.

DHS will post them to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary public comment submission you make to DHS. DHS may withhold information provided in comments from public viewing that it determines is offensive. For additional information, please read the “Privacy and Security Notice,” via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov.

DHS will consider all properly submitted comments and materials received during the comment period and may change this rule based on your comments.

B. Viewing Comments and Documents

Docket: To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert “ICEB-2019-0006” in the “Search” box. Click on the “Open Docket Folder,” and you can click on “View Comment” or “View All” under the “Comments” section of the page. Individuals without internet access can make alternate arrangements for viewing comments and documents related to this rulemaking by contacting ICE through the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above. You may also sign up for email alerts on the online docket to be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.”

Remember that this is a proposed rule, which means that it is not law yet and does not have an effective date. It will proceed through normal APA public notice and comment procedures before any final rule is published. After the comment deadline, the agency must review all comments received, which may impact the eventual wording of the final rule. After comments have been analyzed and the proposed rule amended (if at all), the agency will send a final rule back to OMB for another review. After OMB reviews the final rule, it is sent back to the agency, which will then publish it in the Federal Register as a rule as a final rule with an effective date. If a final rule is eventually published, the final rule notice will contain an effective date. It is not until the effective date included in a future final rule notice in the Federal Register that any changes become effective. The proposed rule indicates that since this is a major rule as defined by the Congressional Review Act, “this rule, if enacted as a final rule, would be effective at least 60 days after the date on which Congress receives a report submitted by DHS under the Congressional Review Act, or 60 days after the final rule’s publication, whichever is later.”

 

Analysis of Proposed DHS Regulation Regarding Duration of Status

Posted on: September 29th, 2020 by blair

On Friday, September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule that would eliminate Duration of Status (D/S) for F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors, and F-2/J-2 dependents. This is a proposed rule that currently does not have an effective date. As a proposed rule, it will proceed through the standard public notice and comment procedures before a final rule is published.

Here is a summary of what this proposed rule would mean for you if it were to become a final published rule:

  • Elimination of D/S: Currently, F-1 and J-1 visa holders can stay in status for as long as their Form I-20 or DS-2019 has been issued (often the selected form end date is based on the expected graduation date or program completion date). Under this rule, these individuals would be given a 4-year admission period unless the student or scholar is subject to a limited 2-year admission period.
  • Groups subject to the 2-year limit:
    • Individuals who were born in or are citizens of countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List. Currently, these countries are Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea.
    • Citizens of countries with a student and exchange visitor total overstay rate of greater than 10% as published in the DHS Entry/Exit Overstay report.
    • Individuals who warrant a 2-year maximum admission period would be in the US national interest as deemed by the DHS Secretary.
  • Requirement to submit Extension of Stay (EOS) requests to the US government in order to extend the stay beyond the 2- or 4- year period.
  • Reduction of F-1 grace period from 60 days to 30 days.

For additional details included in this rule, please review the proposed rule published in the Federal Register.

The Office of Global Engagement will continue to analyze the rule (and any changes resulting from the 31-day comment period) and determine its impact on the UM community. If a final rule is published, OGE will widely communicate its effect on the UM community to international students and scholars, as well as campus partners.

We value the contributions that international students and scholars bring to UM, Mississippi, and the United States. We will continue to advocate for UM’s international students and scholars and fight against these types of unfavorable immigration policies.

Information on SEVP Broadcast Guidance of July 6, 2020

Posted on: July 14th, 2020 by blair

Please note that SEVP rescinded the widely criticized July 6 guidance discussed below.  Unfortunately the rescission has left us with questions that need answers quickly so that UM can continue to plan course delivery for the fall and properly advise international students.  Advice will be made available to the UM community as soon as SEVP clarifies the applicable fall 2020 semester regulations.

 

Monday, July 6, 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) published a broadcast message titled, “COVID-19 and Fall 2020.”  We understand the confusion and frustration that this new guidance has caused students.  We are here to help support you during this time and put your worries at ease.

The message affects students in F-1 status and gives instructions to schools and students based on the fall instructional plan of their institution. By the definitions in the SEVP broadcast message, the published operational plan of the University of Mississippi falls into the hybrid model which is a mixture of in-person and online classes. 

 Under the hybrid model, students will have a temporary exemption for the fall semester that allows for more than one 3 credit online or remote course, unless you are in a pathway program or language training program. Check your I-20 to see the “Educational Level” listed in the” Program of Study” box to see your classification.  If you are in a pathway program or language training program, you must take all in-person or in some cases, hybrid courses.  

The SEVP guidance does not set a minimum number of classes, so the recommendation is that students cannot be in all remote or online courses, and if there is a choice in format, in-person or hybrid is preferred by SEVP.

It is important to ensure that you have a schedule that meets these requirements. In the university’s coding in my.olemiss.edu, section (in-person) and hybrid classifications mean the class has an in-person component.  You should have at least one in-person or hybrid course in your course schedule.

Thesis and dissertation hours count as in-person hours, so any graduate student with thesis or dissertation hours is compliant with the regulation. 

Many of you have asked and worried about the consequences if the university must move online at any point during the fall semester due to high COVID-19 infection rates.  The University of Mississippi is considered to be operating under a hybrid model according to SEVP’s guidance, and our plan is to remain a hybrid model for the fall semester, as long as we are able to mitigate virus spread with our protocols and the status of our state, system, and community allow it.  Our goal would be to make changes to the delivery format of courses on an individual basis, and we have worked to create a course or course schedule for international students that will enable international students to be certified as having a hybrid schedule for the fall semester.  If you are not enrolled in thesis or dissertation hours, then we will be in contact with you about the course.  You, your status, and your ability to remain here to complete your degrees are critically important to us.  If you have questions about your schedule once you have reviewed it in my.olemiss.edu, please email ipdept@olemiss.edu.

Students in J-1 status also have flexibility with their schedules, and we recommend enrolling in in-person or hybrid if that is offered by your program. Information from the Exchange Visitor Program related to COVID-19 can be found at: https://j1visa.state.gov/covid-19/

Presidential Proclamations on Immigration

Posted on: June 30th, 2020 by blair

Below please find information and interpretation of the various COVID-19-related Presidential Proclamations issued since March 2020.  Specific immigration questions should be directed to the Office of International Programs at ipdept@olemiss.edu.

 

How does the June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation affect the University of Mississippi community?

On June 22, the White House issued a new Presidential Proclamation regarding H-1b visas.  The Proclamation appears to bar the entry of people who are outside of the U.S. and who are seeking, but who do not yet possess, the following visa types: H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1 and L-2.  

The proclamation addresses J visas but does not affect the categories of Exchange Visitors (J-1 – students, scholars, researchers) for which UM issues documents. This Proclamation is valid through December 31, 2020 but should be reviewed within 30 days of the effective date of June 24, 2020, and every 60 days thereafter and adjusted as needed.  The Proclamation also extends the intending immigrant ban issued on April 22 as expected (though note that this did not apply to the UM community when issued).  

E-3s and F-1s, including those on OPT, are not currently affected.

Guidance for Departments and Visa Holders: 

New H-1b applicants without a current, valid H-1b visa who are outside of the United States after June 24, 2020, will not be able to enter the United States until January 1, 2021, unless the Proclamation is rescinded, adjusted, or they meet one of the exceptions listed in the proclamation.

If you have an H-1b visa, you may continue to use it during the dates of validity for entry into the U.S. though it is recommended that you check with the Office of International Programs for specific guidance.  Remember that UM strongly discourages personal international travel at this time due to COVID-19.

H-1b visa holders who have traveled abroad, are outside the U.S. on June 24, 2020, and whose visas have expired, will be covered by the ban and should discuss with the Office of International Programs whether any of the exceptions listed in the proclamation are applicable.

At this time, advice has been given to the one known department potentially affected by the June 22, 2020 proclamation.

Please contact the Office of International Programs at ipdept@olemiss.edu if you have specific immigration questions.

Here are two summaries of the June 22, 2020, proclamation for additional reading:

Q and A from Immigration Experts – What We Know So Far

Klasko Law Article

 

How does the May 29, 2020 Presidential Proclamation regarding Chinese researchers and students affect the UM community?  

  • The Presidential Proclamation of May 29, 2020, directed at Chinese students and researchers, continues to be challenging and unclear.  State Department officials have said that for a student or researcher to be flagged, visa applicants would have to be connected to a Chinese university that supports China’s military-fusion strategy AND be studying or doing research in a sensitive field.  Unfortunately there is no word about which areas are considered sensitive.
  • State Department officials said that applicants subject to the ban should be notified at the time of their visa interview, rather than have their application linger in often-lengthy administrative processing.  Unfortunately, though, the lack of transparency and information about enforcing this order leaves us searching for and awaiting clarity.  Further reading from Siskind Susser on the May 29, 2020, proclamation.

 

How does the April 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation on immigrant visas affect the UM community?

President Trump tweeted on April 20 about ending immigration temporarily, and many of you may be wondering what this means for international students and scholars at UM. The White House issued a Presidential Proclamation on April 22 that limits the entry for 60 days of some intending immigrants who do not have an approved immigrant visa.

The order does not apply to those who already hold permanent resident status and non-immigrant categories including F-1 and J-1 students, H-1b workers, J-1 scholars, and visitors for business or tourism.

Here are two summaries of the proclamation for additional reading:

Siskind Susser Blog

Klasko Law Blog

 

FAQ for University Departments – Planning for Fall 2020

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020 by blair

Many departments have questions about welcoming international students in fall 2020.  While there are a lot of unknowns for the fall semester, we appreciate that departments are making arrangements expecting international student enrollment.  Currently many U.S. Embassies abroad remain closed, affecting the ability to get visa appointments prior to the fall start date.  Additionally, entry bans further complicate incoming student plans.

Below please find some frequently asked questions from departments.  This is a working document to be edited as questions are answered and added to as questions come in; however, we hope that this assists you in planning and advising international students.

Are international students allowed to take classes online from their home countries if they cannot physically attend in the fall?

  • Please note that there exist location-specific requirements for compliance, based on the location where a student, regardless of nationality, accesses a course.  Issues that must be reviewed include tax liability for UM, export controls, whether the course constitutes a physical presence in another country, etc.  While we appreciate that many courses are being offered online this fall, it does not automatically mean that students can take online classes from outside the United States.  Please know that this question has been sent to the appropriate office and country-specific information will be shared when available.

If an international graduate student can complete their assistantship remotely during the fall semester, can they be paid a stipend and receive a tuition scholarship?

  • This is a complicated issue related to HR, tax liability for UM, tax liability for individual students, etc. and is also country-specific.  These situations are being discussed with the appropriate office in an effort to find a solution.  As this issue is related to the above question about online instruction, we will provide assistance on a country-by-country basis.
  • Additional questions that are related to this topic and online course access include:
    • Can international students be charged tuition if accessing their courses from abroad?
    • Can international students be paid if they have a US bank account?  If they do not have a US bank account?

How does CDC guidance affect incoming international students?

  • At this time, non-citizens, excluding permanent residents and with certain limited exceptions, who have been present in certain countries 14 days prior to entry into the US are prohibited from entry into the US.  This prohibition may still exist in the fall and affect incoming international students and scholars.  Non-citizens who have been in these countries will be prohibited from entry.  If they depart the country and stay for 14 days in a country that is not on the entry ban list, they should be able to enter the U.S.

Will there be quarantine procedures for incoming international travelers per CDC guidance

  • A committee is working on quarantine procedures not only for new and returning students traveling from overseas but also quarantine procedures for students throughout the fall semester.

Questions about the various Presidential Proclamations issued during the COVID-19 crisis?

Please refer to OGE’s immigration post.

Guidance on the “Travel Ban”

Posted on: July 7th, 2017 by blair

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017

The Office of International Programs provided the following information regarding the Presidential Proclamation dated September 24, 2017 pursuant to Section 2(e) of Executive Order 13780.  The situation remains fluid, and we await guidance on the waivers noted in the proclamation.

Yesterday, a presidential proclamation was issued that affects travel to the U.S. for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. As more people read the language of the proclamation and interpret its meaning, information on this matter may change, so it is important to monitor the news on this if any travel is being considered. Please see the initial information from NAFSA Association of International Educators.  You can also read the published proclamation from the link.

This is different from the previous executive orders that were issued, and each country included has specific restrictions that may not be the same as others on the list. There are exemptions such as those holding U.S. permanent resident status and dual citizens who are using a passport from a non-designated country. There are also waivers, and this is one of the parts where more information about how these will be viewed is needed. NAFSA expects that the Department of State will issue field guidance to clarify the waiver process.

This kind of news can be stressful even for those not planning travel. The Counseling Center is available free of charge to enrolled students and is a place for confidential conversations and guidance on any impacts to your study and wellbeing. https://counseling.olemiss.edu/services/

As always, please know that we are here to support your success at the university. If you have questions or want to talk about your specific plans, please contact us. We can also provide contact information for immigration attorneys which may be advisable in some situations.

Please feel free to contact the Office of Global Engagement or the Office of International Programs for any questions related to immigration status.

 

JUNE 28, 2017

The Office of International Programs provided the following information to international students, faculty, scholars, and staff on June 28, 2017 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the executive order also known as the “travel ban.”

HEADLINES YOU MAY SEE:

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay to the Preliminary Injunctions on the 90-day Travel Ban

What this means: This means that the previous court order blocking the March 6th travel ban will be halted. In other words, the travel ban is, generally, in effect, but with some important exceptions for students, researchers, faculty, and family members visiting them.

 

The court is allowing the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals who lack any “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States.”

What this means: In practical terms, this means that [the ban] may not be enforced against any foreign national who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO LIKELY MEET THE “BONA FIDE RELATIONSHIP”

The Court gives the following examples of individuals who would likely have the required “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. entity, and therefore would remain exempt from the 90-day ban:

  • Students who have been admitted to a U.S. school (e.g., F-1, M-1, or J-1 student)
  • Workers who accept an offer of employment from a U.S. employer (e.g., H-1B, O-1, TN)
  • Lecturers invited to address an American audience

To qualify as a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity, the Court states that the “relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the executive order].

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

  1. Remain calm.
  2. If you are from one of the affected countries, consult the Office of International Programs before any travel outside the U.S.
  3. If you must travel outside the U.S., make sure you have all of your documentation.
    1. F-1: Most recent I-20 with Travel Signature; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94; OPT card (if applicable)
    2. J-1: Most recent DS-2019 with Travel Signature; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94
    3. H-1B: Original I-797 Approval Notice; Valid visa; I-94 (I-797 serves as I-94 if you have not left the U.S. since the I-797 was issued)
    4. E-3: Original I-797 Approval Notice; Copy of I-129 Petition; Employment letter; Valid passport; Valid visa; I-94 (I-797 serves as I-94 if you have not left the U.S. since the I-797 was issued)
    5. Permanent Resident: Valid Permanent Residency Card; Letter of Introduction (from OIP); Valid passport
  4. Make sure to check your email for any updates.
    1. You can also check the NAFSA travel advisory page here: http://www.nafsa.org/eoentry

Please feel free to contact the Office of Global Engagement or the Office of International Programs for any questions related to immigration status.