In our country and our world today, questions about citizenship and immigration are hotly contested. But at Yale, we share none of this uncertainty about the critical importance of immigrant and international students and scholars. The work of the university—education and research—requires the free movement of people and ideas across national borders. On behalf of this university, I advocate for policies that will allow us to welcome students and scholars from around the world to our campus. President Peter Salovey, Yale College Opening Assembly Address, August 25, 2018
Starting in January, 2017 the Trump Administration began issuing Executive Orders charging the various agencies involved with managing legal immigration (primarily Departments of State, Labor and Homeland Security) to review and revise their policies. Since that time most agencies have issued Policy Memorandum which influence many different immigration processes. Some of these policies are being challenged in the courts. While many of the changes affect a wide section of the Yale population, the primary focus of this web resource is on non-immigrants with student or scholar visas such as F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, TN, as well as undocumented students. Please note that the information listed on these pages does not constitute legal advice. If you would like to obtain individual guidance or if you have any questions related to these changes please contact OISS directly.
A Chronological List of Selected Immigration Updates
October 1, 2018 USCIS Expands Deportation Rule
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a new policy memo which addresses a change in the usage of a procedure known as Notice to Appear. Essentially this policy expands when USCIS might begin “removable proceedings” (aka deportation) for certain individuals. It does not affect employment based visas (H-1B, O-1, etc…) but could affect students and scholars trying to change visa status inside the U.S.
Interpreting the Notice to Appear memo (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
August 9, 2018 USCIS Unlawful Policy Memo (directed at students and researchers)
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy memo which dramatically changes a 20-year standing precedent on defining “unlawful presence.” For 20 year there was a separation between “violating status” and “accruing unlawful status.” In essence USCIS would have to first notify the visa holder that they were beginning to accrue unlawful presence time based on an event. F-1 students and J-1 Exchange Visitors were always exempt of this rule. With the new policy F-1 students and J-1 Exchange visitors could be barred from returning to the U.S. for three years, ten years or even permanently depending on how much unlawful presence time they accrue.
Interpreting the Unlawful Presence Memo (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
August 8, 2018 State Department Tightens Rules Residence Abroad
The U.S. State Department has always required that an international student or scholar applying for a visa demonstrate that they have ties to residence in a foreign country they have no intention of abandoning. The language in the Foreign Affairs Manual has been changed to ensure the Consular Officer is satisfied that the applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon completion of the program.
Interpreting the Residence Abroad Rule (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
July 13, 2018 USCIS Policy Memo Enabling Denial without Warning
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy memo which gives the agency the right to deny an application if they feel it does not “establish eligibility.” Until now USCIS would normally issue a Notice of Intent to Deny, giving the petitioner a chance to explain the deficiencies. It is too early to know how USCIS will apply this new policy.
Interpreting the Memo on Denying Applications (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
June 26, 2018 Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban 3.0
On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the travel ban making it permanent. It had already been in effect and enforced since December 4, 2017, for nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and
Somalia. The travel ban restrictions on these seven countries are country-specific, and tailored to the situation of each individual country. The ban is designed so that it may change specific conditions, or countries listed at any time based on various factors.
Current travel ban countries and specific conditions: (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
April 2018 Chad Removed from Travel Ban
The travel ban was amended to remove Chad as one of the affected countries. The Travel Ban 3.0 restrictions on the remaining seven countries are country-specific, and tailored to the situation of each individual country.
February 6, 2018 USCIS Changes Policy on Change of Status to F-1 Student Visa
USCIS introduced a new policy for anyone trying to apply for F-1 student visa status inside the U.S. The new policy says that the applicant must have an underlying immigration status until at least 30 days prior to the USCIS adjudication. The policy suggests an application for B Visitor Visa status to “bridge” the time until their request for F-1 student status is adjudicated. The problem is that the change of status process is currently taking 11-15 months making the entire process impossible. Students admitted to Yale must speak with their OISS adviser before taking any actions related to this issue.
Interpreting the Bridge Change of Status Policy (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
December 4, 2017 Supreme Court Allows Travel Ban for Now
The Supreme Court of the United States stayed preliminary injunctions that had partially blocked the ban, which allows the government to enforce Travel Ban 3.0 on all 8 countries, pending resolution of the government's appeal to the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, and during any further SCOTUS proceedings on that issue. The current travel ban (Presidential Proclamation 9645) affects citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The ban also affects certain Venezuelan government officials and most North Koreans.
Interpreting the Current Travel Ban (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
Note: Yale will continue to assist students and scholars affected by this most recent travel ban. Students and scholars (and their families) from these countries who have upcoming travel plans should consult with their OISS adviser prior to purchasing any tickets. In some cases OISS may be able to provide a referral for a free legal consultation if appropriate.
October 23, 2017 USCIS Recinds Deference Policy
USCIS recinded a 14 year-old policy on “deference” meaning they will now adjudicate each application as if it is the first request. Previously USCIS would not scrutinize an H-1B or O-1 extension request since the merits of the case were adjudicated in the original application. Now petitioners must demonstrate each area or eligibility in each application creating potential for questions, or a denial without warning (see above.)
Interpreting the USCIS Recinding of the Deference Policy (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
August 28, 2017 New Interview Requirements for Green Cards Slow Process
For many years USCIS has waived the interview process for green card applications that are based on employment. The new requirement that all applicants must been interviewed in person has slowed the final stage in the green card process significantly.. Yale affiliates who are in the final stages of their green card should discuss the timing of the Adjustment of Status process with their attorney.
August 3, 2017 Extreme Vetting Visa Application Form Introduced
The Department of State introduced a new visa application form (form DS-5535) which will be used in select cases to ask additional questions about past employment, study, and residences stretching back for fifteen years.
Interpreting the Extreme Vetting Form DS-5535 (from NAFSA: Association of International Educators)
April 18, 2017 White House Announces Executive Order, Buy America and Hire America BAHA
The April 18 Executive Order, Buy American and Hire American, calls for, among other things, a review of the laws and regulations governing the entry into the U.S. of workers from abroad, including a review of the H-1B program. The White House has requested the executive agencies (Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State) to suggest reforms as soon as practicably possible. Since April 2017 we have seen various government agencies writing new policies (many listed on this page) limiting, or slowing immigration processes. An interesting article on the topic appeared in Forbes in September 2018.
February 21, 2017: DHS signs Border Security and Enforcement of Immigration Law memos
The Department of Homeland Security posted two new “implementation memos” related to the Executive Orders issued on January 27th. Neither the Border Security or Enforcement of Immigration Law memos appear to have any immediate affect on international students (including DACA) and scholars. However they broaden the scope of who is deportable to an unprecedented level. The American Immigration Council, along with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, provided a practice advisory addressing the coming expansion of expedited removal, who might be impacted by it, and possible ways to challenge an expedited removal order. Another topic of possible concern in the “Enforcement of Immigration Laws” memo is the potential vulnerability of Advanced Parole. Until we have further clarification of the memo we recommend that any member of the Yale community planning to use Advanced Parole speak to an OISS Advisor before making travel plans.
DISCLAIMER: The resources and guidance listed on this page do not constitute legal advice. Please consult with your OISS adviser or an immigration attorney about the particulars of your situation.