A Chronological List of Selected Immigration Updates
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
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
USCIS Rescinds Deference Policy
USCIS rescinded 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 adviser before making travel plans.