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RECENT IMMIGRATION POLICY UPDATES

(LAST UPDATE/REVIEW: MARCH 12, 2021)

 

The UC San Diego International Students (ISPO) & Programs Office and International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) recognize that recent changes in immigration policy may raise questions and concerns in our international community. Our commitment to supporting our international student and scholar population on campus remains strong and steadfast. This page provides information and support resources for the UC San Diego community.



IMMIGRATION NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

 

03/11/2021: Expansion of Renewal Visa Interview Waiver Eiligibility

  • On March 11, 2021, the Department of State extended until December 31, 2021 the temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more 48 months have passed since the prior visa expired (previously 24 months).
  • See the DOS website for additional details.

01/15/2021: Department of Labor Publishes Final Rule Strengthening Wage Protections

  • On January 15th, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published the "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States" in the Federal Register. This final rule becomes effective March 15th, 2021, and adopts with changes the interim final rule from fall of 2020 that amended regulations governing the prevailing wages for certain employment-based immigrant visas and for H-1B/H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrant visas.
  • These regulations update the method of computation for prevailing wage levels under the existing four-tier structure to better reflect actual wages earned by U.S. workers.
    • Level 1 wage rates will be determined as the 35th percentile of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage distribution.
    • Level IV wage rates will be computed as the 90th percentile of the OES wage distribution, and the intervening wage levels determined mathematically from the outer levels.
  • Modifications of the computational method will be applied during specific time periods throughout a transition period.
  • Note that wages determined by collective bargaining agreements will be considered prevailing wage rates without the need to compute wage rates from OES data. 

Winter 2021 Updates:

02/02/2021: CBP Announces Compliance with Presidential Executive Order Requiring Face Masks at Ports of Entry

Effective February 2, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is enforcing the requirement that travelers wear face masks at all air, land and sea ports of entry in the United States in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order Regarding the Requirement for Persons to Wear Masks While on Public Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs.

01/28/2021: USCIS Extends COVID-19 RFE Response Flexibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended until March 31, 2021 the COVID-19 flexibilities it established for responses to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and other similar response-based notices and requests, and filing date requirements for filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

01/25/21: Presidential Proclamations on Novel Coronavirus

01/21/21: Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel

The Biden administration issued an Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel requiring that masks be worn in airports or on commercial aircraft, trains, maritime vessels, intercity bus services and other forms of public transportation within the U.S., strictly adhering with CDC guidelines In addition, international travelers should be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling to the U.S. and to comply with applicable CDC guidelines pertaining to self-quarantine after entry to the U.S to satisfy the CDC order of January 12, 2021.

The U.S. will also pursue outreach to Canada and Mexico in order to establish health protocols for land ports of entry within 14 days and similar measures will be taken with respect to public health measures for arrivals at sea ports. Finally, the order directs the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccinations to International Certificates of Vaccination Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of same. Read the full executive order here.

01/21/2021: CBP Extends Canada-Mexico Land Entry Restrictions but Student Still Considered Essential Travelers

U.S. Customs and Border Protection extended through February 21, 2021 the COVID-19 restrictions that allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for "essential travel" only. Essential travel still includes "individuals traveling to attend educational institutions". Learn more here.

01/20/2021: Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States

  • Among many presidential actions announced within the first day of the new administration, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to The United States. Within the proclamation, President Biden declared:
    • Revocation of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9645 of September 24, 2017 (Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9723 of April 10, 2018 (Maintaining Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
    • Revocation of Proclamation 9983 of January 31, 2020 (Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats)
  • Within the proclamation, President Biden also announced resumption of visa processing and reopening of denied visa applications for those negatively impacted or facing delays imposed by Proclamation 9645 or 9983. While the travel ban has been rescinded, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are gradually resuming visa services that were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full proclamation here.
  • For more information regarding visa services and estimated processing times please visit USEmbassy.gov to find the website of the nearest embassy or consulate near you.

01/14/2021: DOL Publishes Final Rule on H-1B and Labor Certification Prevailing Wage Rates

  • Late last week the U.S. Dept of Labor (DOL) published a final rule in the Federal Register entitled "Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States". This rule amends the previous Interim Final Rule published Oct. 8th, 2020, which ultimately had been blocked by federal courts.
  • The new rule's effective date is March 15th, 2021. As with the interim rule, the final rule will dramatically change the computation of prevailing wage levels in the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey database, for example, raising the wage rate from the 17th percentile to the 35th percentile of the OES wage distribution for a Level I (entry level) wage for H-1B employees. While these rates represent a modest reduction from those under the October interim final rule, they still will result in a significant increase for all employers across the country. There will be a phase in period over the first 1.5 years as rates are increased to final levels under the new rule.
  • Hiring of represented positions will not be impacted, as collective bargaining agreement salary scales are prevailing wage rates. But barring court injunction or Biden administration roll-back, all non-represented hires of H-1B employees will be impacted by this rule. Biden's transition team has indicated a memo will be issued tomorrow to halt or delay "midnight regulations" taken by the Trump administration and which have not yet gone into effect; it is not clear yet what additional actions the Biden administration might undertake, such as using the Congressional Review Act, or publishing a new set of regulations, or some other delaying tactic. Additionally, court cases may be brought against the rule and result in an injunction, thus freeing up the Biden administration to pursue other legislative and regulatory agendas.

01/13/2021: Centers for Disease Control Requiring Negative COVID Test for International Air Travel Arrivals

On January 13th, 2021 the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) announced that all air passengers arriving to the U.S. from a foreign country must get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of negative result or documentation of recovery to the airline prior to boarding.

01/08/2021: DHS Publishes Final Rule that Changes H-1B Selection Process

  • On January 08, 2021 the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final rule "Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions" that changes the process by which cap-subject H-1B petitions are selected from a completely random one to one based on salary levels - selecting first those petitions with the highest wage levels (level IV) and then moving progressively lower (level I - entry level positions). Each year DHS accepts a total of 85,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions for processing.
  • DHS analysis of this modified process applied to the past two years' submissions indicates that no level I petitions would have been selected for processing.
  • The new rule goes into effect in 60 days, and therefore will not affect this current year's H-1B lottery.
  • Academic institutions are not subject to the H-1B cap and thus are not impacted by this rule; private industry employers will be impacted, particularly those without the means to sponsor H-1B employees at higher wage levels.

 


Fall 2020 Updates:

12/31/2020: President Extends Suspension of H-1B Visa issuance Due to COVID Labor Market

  • On 12/31/2020 the President extended his earlier Proclamation 10052 (Suspension of Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market...), which prohibits the issuance of immigrant and certain nonimmigrant (including H-1B) visa stamps to those outside of the U.S. and without valid visa stamps in the affected classifications as of the effective date of the initial proclamation.
  • The current extension runs through 3/31/2021; read the full text of the proclamation.
  • This only affects persons currently outside of the U.S. without valid H-1B visa stamps; departments can still sponsor persons for H-1B status who are currently inside the U.S. or had valid H-1B visa stamps as of June 24, 2020.

12/29/2020: Expansion of Renewal Visa Interview Waiver

  • On December 29, 2020, the Department of State extended until March 31, 2021 the temporary expansion of statutory and regulatory provisions that allow consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying to renew a visa in the same nonimmigrant visa classification and category if not more 24 months have passed since the prior visa expired. See DOS site for additional details .

12/01/2020: Court Decision Blocks Implementation of DOL and DHS H-1B Rules

  • On December 1, 2020, a U.S. District Court ruling blocked both recent interim final rules of the Department of Labor ("Strengthening Wage Protections...") and the Department of Homeland Security ("Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification"), stating the agencies did not have just cause to promulgate the rules without notice and comment.
  • The DOL rule, which was effective immediately upon publication, can no longer be enforced, and the DHS rule, with effective date of Dec 7th, can no longer be implemented. The federal agencies have the option to appeal or republish these rules with comment periods, but there is not much time left for the current administration to pursue these options.

11/30/2020: Legal Decision Supporting Optional Practical Training (OPT/STEM OPT) Program

  • On November 30, 2020, the Washington D.C. federal court hearing the Washtech v. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) case ended, at least for now, the challenge against Optional Practical Training (OPT). While this judgment cannot be considered final, it is another good legal decision in support of the OPT program. Refer to this Forbes story for more context.

10/28/2020 DHS Proposes To Replace H-1B Cap Random Selection Process With Wage-Based Selection Process

  • On Wednesday, October 28 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed rulemaking to amend regulations governing the process by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B registrations for filing of cap-subject petitions.
  • Currently, USCIS uses a lottery to select the 85,000 H-1B petitions it is allowed by statute to process each year (the "cap"); if this rule is finalized, H-1B cap-subject petition selections would be based on the highest prevailing wage level that the offered salary equals or exceeds for the occupational classification and area of intended employment, rather than a random selection process.
  • This rulemaking will not directly impact cap-exempt higher education institutions in their filings of H-1B petitions but could impact those persons seeking H-1B employment in cap-subject private industry.

10/07/20 U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) Publish New Interim Final Rules on the H-1B Classification

  • On October 7, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) issued interim final rules (DOL and DHS) regarding the H-1B classification, and on Oct. 8th DOL made public the new prevailing wage rates in it OES database, which are considerably higher than previous wage rates. The DOL rulemaking focused on prevailing wage rates, and the DHS rulemaking focused on tightening regulatory definitions and procedures. While these are interim final rules with a 30-day public comment period, the DOL rule is effective immediately, and the DHS rule effective 12/7/2020.
  • The new prevailing wage rates do not apply retroactively to already approved H-1B petitions and Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) supporting them; only those LCAs and H-1B petitions moving forward. Also, salary scales based on collective bargaining agreements take precedence over published prevailing wage rates in OES. If a department is sponsoring a non-represented employee for a new or extension H-1B petition, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your IFSO immigration advisor who will be handling the case for an in-house prevailing wage rate determination prior to making an offer.
  • The DHS regulations will limit H-1B approval periods to one-year only for workers placed at worksites not owned/leased/operated by the employer.
  • The International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO) and the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) are working with its UC Federal Government Relations colleagues and NAFSA: Association of International Educators to report the challenges UC San Diego faces with this new ruling and will be exploring what alternatives to the OES database may exist for problematic wage rate determinations.

09/29/2020 Injunction on Implementation of Final USCIS Fee Rule

On September 29, 2020, the U.S. District court for Northern California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule in its entirety. New fees and forms associated with implementation of the rule on October 2, 2020, are now put on hold, as are other aspects of the rule, including the Premium Processing time change from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Current fees and forms should continue to be used pending final adjudication of the matter.

09/25/2020 Proposed Rule to Eliminate Duration of Status (D/S) for F and J Students

  • On September 25, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Proposed New Rule to eliminate the current duration of status (D/S) policy for international students in F-1 and J-1 status and international researchers and scholars in J-1 status and replacing the policy with a set expiration date for authorized stay.
    Under the current D/S policy, students and researchers have the flexibility to make approved changes to their plan without having to depart the United States or undertake a long and complicated government process to extend their status. If approved, key changes to the policy may include:
    • Limiting the period of authorized stay for F or J status (students, researchers, scholars and their dependents) to 2 to 4 years.
    • Reducing the F-1 grace period allowed to remain in the U.S. after completing a program of study from 60 to 30 days.
  • Please keep in mind that this is still a proposed rule. It is not in effect at this time. ISPO is strongly opposed to these changes. We are monitoring the situation and working with UC-wide advocacy efforts.
  • We will send updates via the iStudents listserv when new information becomes available.

 


Other Recent 2020 Updates:

9/18/2020 Canada-Mexico "Essential Travel" Restrictions Extended

The restrictions that allow entry to the United States through land ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S. Mexico borders for "essential travel" only have been extended through October 21, 2020.

09/14/2020 DHS and TSA Terminate Designated COVID-19 Airport Restrictions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published notices in the Federal Register that terminate COVID-19 designated arrival airport restrictions, effective September 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The restrictions had required all flights to land at one of 15 designated U.S. airports if they carried persons who within the last 14 days traveled from, or were otherwise present within, one of the countries designated in the five country-specific Presidential Proclamation coronavirus bans. The country-specific coronavirus proclamations themselves remain in place, however, subject to specific exemptions.

09/11/2020 USCIS Extends COVID-19 RFE Response Flexibility unitl January 1, 2021

On September 11, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended until January 1, 2021 the COVID-19 flexibilities it established for responses to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and other similar response-based notices and requests, and filing date requirements for filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

09/11/2020 Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule Back in Effect (Injunction Stayed)

On September 11, 2020, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision that stays the prior injunction to these regulations; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published information on their website on September 22 indicating how they will apply the regulations retroactively to February 24, 2020. If you have a pending I-129 petition filed on your behalf and/or a pending I-539 application as of the September 22 notice date and which was filed after the July 29th injunction date, USCIS may ask for missing evidence prior to adjudication. USCIS will not readjudicate any petitions/applications that have already been approved following the injunction date and prior to the September 22nd notice date. Read the final rule here.

08/27/2020 Expansion of Visa Renewal Interview Waiver Eligibility

  • To reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 to consulate staff and other visa applicants, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced on August 25th that it has temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification. Previously the waiver was allowed only for those applicants whose visas had expired within 12 months; the new expiration period has now been extended to 24 months. The policy is in effect until December 31, 2020. The DOS Foreign Affairs Manual instructs consular officials to apply additional requirements for F and J nonimmigrants as follow:
    • SEVIS status indicates "initial" or "active".
    • F students: renewing visa to continue participation in the same major course of study even if at a different institution OR attend the same institution even if in a different major course of study.
    • J exchange visitors: renewing visa to continue participation in the same program, with the same SEVIS number from the previously issued visa.

07/29/2020 Injuction of the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule

  • On July 29, 2020 a U.S. District Court instructed the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (USDHS) that they cannot enforce the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to COVID 19 (see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcement).
  • This applies to all petitions and applications adjudicated after July 29, 2020. The Forms I-129 and I-539 will not require additional information regarding receipt of public benefits, nor will the Form I-944 be required for Adjustment of Status petitions. In any public charge inadmissibility determination, USCIS will follow prior public charge guidance

07/24/2020 Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance Update

  • On July 24, 2020, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) posted a Broadcast Message on the Immigration & Immigration & Customs Enforcement website to clarify certain aspects of applying the March 2020 SEVP guidance in the context of Fall 2020 term. In addition, SEVP posted Clarifying FAQs for Fall 2020.

  • With these announcements, SEVP stated the following: 

    1. Continuing Students: Students holding an active SEVIS record, including those who are outside the United States, are eligible to enroll in a fully remote course load for the Fall quarter, maintain their F-1 status, and seek re-entry into the U.S. In addition, they will be permitted to temporarily count online classes towards a full course of study in excess of the regulatory limits. 
    2. New Students: Admitted students, who are outside of the U.S., will likely not be able to obtain an F-1 visa or enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school if they are taking a fully remote course load.

07/22/2020 Canada-Mexico "Essential Travel" Restriction Extended

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) extended once again the initial March 24, 2020 Federal Register announcements (Canada and Mexico) that temporarily only allow entry along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for "essential travel."
  • Essential travel includes attendance at educational institutions and traveling to work in the U.S. but does not allow for tourism. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may return to the U.S. and persons may also travel for emergency response and public health purposes. See the CBP FAQ for more information; this current extension runs through August 20th, 2020.

07/16/2020 National Interest Exception for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland

  • The U.S. Department of State announced on Thursday, July 16th a " National Interest Exception for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland" that allows students with valid F-1 visas to travel from these locations to the U.S. without seeking a national interest exception.
  • Those students traveling on a J-1 visa should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request prior to traveling.
  • The announcement also mentions "academics" as qualifying for the exception, which may reference J-1 scholars, as suggested by individual posts' announcements (see 07/14/2020 U.S. Department of State Announces Phased Resumption of Visa Services in the list below). We encourage J-1 scholars to contact their nearest embassy or consulate for additional instructions or to request an exception prior to traveling. Additionally, no similar statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection has yet been issued indicating that these travelers will be admitted to the U.S.

07/14/2020 The Rescisssion of the July 06 SEVP Guidance for Fall 2020

  • On July 14, 2020, the July 6, 2020 SEVP Guidance for Fall 2020 was rescinded. At this time, ISPO is evaluating how the rescission may impact students in the Fall 2020 term and expect that there may be forthcoming guidance from SEVP. Please continue to check this FAQ page regularly as we receive further guidance from SEVP.
  • Per the guidance that is now in place, current students in F-1 active status are eligible to retain an active SEVIS I-20 record if you meet the following conditions:
  • For more information, including information regarding enrollment, travel, employment and more, visit the Coronavirus Information for International Students FAQ pages .
  • Please continue to check those pages regularly as we receive further guidance from SEVP.

07/14/2020 U.S. Department of State Announces Phased Resumption of Visa Services

  • On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced the phased resumption of routine visa services, to occur on a post-by-post basis as post-specific conditions permit. Visa applicants are instructed to review individual consulate websites for information regarding operating status.
  • Note that the five geographic COVID-19 presidential proclamations (summarized in the latest: 10041 ) and two COVID-19 labor market proclamations supsending entry of certain nonimmigrants ( 10014 , 10052 ) remain in effect.
  • According to several embassies in the Schengen area, however, Washington announced on July 10th that certain travelers from Schengen area countries could resume traveling to the U.S. if they qualify as a National Interest Exception (NIE), as determined by a Consular Officer, including those traveling as F-1 students and J-1 students/researchers. Posts announcing this policy include Bern , Bratislava , Ljubljana , Luxembourg, Reykjavik , and Vienna .
  • We encourage you to contact your consulate regarding this policy and the procedure for boarding aircraft and subsequent admission to the U.S. at the port of entry in light of the current travel restrictions.
  • Please bear in mind that the San Diego county health order will require a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival from any international location.

07/14/2020 Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization

On Tuesday, July 14th the administration issued an executive order on "Hong Kong Normalization" that suspends or eliminates different and preferential treatment for Hong Kong as compared to China. This order will eliminate the "preference for Hong Kong passport holders as compared to PRC passport holders,"  revoke export licensing exceptions and suspensions (export control realm), and terminate the reciprocal Fulbright exchange program between the U.S. and China/Hong Kong.

07/06/2020 Fall 2020 SEVP Guidance Regarding COVID-19

  • The July 7th guidance from SEVP addressed UC San Diego's ability to issue and ‘activate’ SEVIS records for newly admitted students in the Fall 2020 quarter if they are registered for in-person courses. UC San Diego’s Fall 2020 course offerings follow a ‘hybrid model’, a mixture of remote and in-person courses. 

  • SEVP announced that it would no longer provide the same exemptions it allowed in the Spring and Summer for international students taking online classes due to the pandemic during the fall 2020 quarter. The guidance from SEVP addresses in-person, remote and hybrid enrollment in the Fall 2020 term and what actions students and institutions need to take to maintain F-1 recordsICE also indicated the rule will be published in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule. 
  • Continuing students with Active SEVIS records who enroll and remain enrolled in a minimum of one in-person course to meet the 12-unit full-time requirement will be eligible to remain in the U.S. or seek entry into the U.S. and be eligible for activation of their SEVIS record.

  • Continuing students who are outside the U.S. may take a fully remote course load. Students who are only taking remote courses must remain outside the U.S. 
  • Continuing students currently inside the U.S. must enroll in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid course to meet the 12-unit full-time requirement or must depart the U.S. or take other measures to maintain their non-immigrant status such as transferring to another school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status in the U.S.

  • Newly-Admitted students who are outside the U.S. and are unable to enroll in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid course will not be eligible to seek entry into the U.S. or be eligible for activation of their SEVIS record.

  • Newly-Admitted students who are inside the U.S. and enroll and remain enrolled in a minimum of one in-person or hybrid course to meet the 12-unit full-time requirement will be eligible to remain in the U.S. and be eligible for activation of their SEVIS record.

  • By August 4, 2020, ISPO must reissue new Form I-20s to all students enrolled in at least one in-person course with an updated SEVIS I-20 with a statement in the Form I-20 Remarks field that "the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the Fall 2020 quarter, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program." ISPO will be migrating to digital signatures so students can receive their updated documents in a timely manner. Additional information will be available in the next 1-2 weeks about this new document issuance process and for newly-admitted students who have not yet registered for FA20 courses.

  • UC San Diego must update their operational plans with the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP): Schools that will be entirely online or will not reopen for Fall 2020 must notify SEVP no later than Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Schools that will offer an in-person or hybrid program for Fall 2020 must notify SEVP of their plans by August 1, 2020.

  • If UC San Diego changes their operational plan to fully remote at any time for Fall 2020 term because of Center for Disease Control or San Diego County Public Health guidance, then students cannot take a full online course load and remain in the U.S.
    International students with Active SEVIS records who are in the U.S. will need to take alternative steps to maintain their non-immigrant status such as depart the U.S. or transfer to a school offering in-person instruction.

06/22/2020 Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market

On Monday, June 22, President Trump issued a " Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak " that goes into effect on June 24 (12:01 am, EDT) and principally affects the H-1B and H-4 classifications. The J-1 classification's subcategories that were impacted are not typically seen on university campuses, and the F-1 OPT/STEM OPT category was not mentioned.

The proclamation limits the entry to the U.S. of individuals in H-1B status and their H-4 dependents who were outside of the U.S. as of the effective date of the proclamation AND who have no valid visa stamp as of the effective date (or other valid document, such as an advanced parole document). It is in effect through 12/31/2020 with the possibility of extension. Exceptions exist if deemed in the national interest as determined by the Departments of State/Homeland Security (such as national defense, medical care to hospitalized COVID patients, and COVID research).

If you are present inside the U.S. on June 24 or are outside the U.S. but have an H-1B visa stamp valid for June 24, then you will not be subject to the conditions imposed by this proclamation.

06/15/2020: U.S. Department of Transportation Notice Modifies June 3 Order Regarding Chinese Air Carriers

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation modified the June 03 order limiting scheduled passenger operations of all Chinese air carriers to and from the United States.

The Chinese air carriers can continue to fly 4 weekly flights between China and the United States. See the modified order here.

05/29/2020 Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Students and Researchers from The People's Republic of China

On Friday May 29th, the administration issued a presidential proclamation suspending entry of "certain students and researchers from the People's Republic of China (PRC)." The proclamation applies to all F-1 and J-1 international students and researchers who are:

  • Chinese nationals,  and
  • Affiliated with any institution that "implements or supports" the PRC's " military-civil fusion strategy " (past or present affiliation), to include employment, study, conducting research, and/or receiving funding from these institutions.

Undergraduate students are excluded from this proclamation. Additional exclusions include:

  • U.S. permanent residents or spouse/children of permanent residents
  • "Any alien who is studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC's military-civil fusion strategy"
  • Law enforcement/national interest objectives

 

INTERPRETATION

The proclamation lacks clarity and suggests measures to be carried out in the future, both of which make it difficult to assess the impact on individuals at this time:

  • The entities that implement or support the "military-civil fusion strategy" are not specified in the proclamation, nor in the Dept of State fact sheet referenced above; we do not know which entity affiliations may result in future visa denials.
  • The proclamation gives discretion to the Department of State to revoke visas of F-1/J-1 graduate students/researchers currently in the U.S. The literal interpretation of "visa revocation" would be cancellation of the visa stamp in one's passport; such action would not negatively impact one's legal status while remaining inside the U.S., but upon exit, would prevent re-entry to the U.S. without a new visa stamp being issued.
  • The proclamation gives discretion to the Departments of State and Homeland Security to "take action to further mitigate the risk posed by the PRC's acquisition of sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property" and requests that the Secretaries of these departments report to the President within 60 days of any planned and executed actions.


The International Students & Programs Office remains committed to supporting our student population during these challenging times. Please contact an International Student Advisor if you have any questions about how this may impact you directly.

05/24/2020 Proclamation on Suspension of Entry ... of Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Novel Coronavirus

  • On May 24, The Administration updated the 04/22/2020 Presidential Proclamation imposing travel restrictions into the United States. It now suspends entry into the United States by certain non-U.S. citizens, who were physically present within Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S.
  • Impacted Countries: Brazil, China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, Ireland, United Kingdom, and the Schengen Area of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
  • Travel and Visa Restrictions for students in F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant status in effect until further notice:
    1. The May 24, 2020 Proclamation on Suspension of Entry ... of Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Novel Coronavirus mentioned above restricting travel to the U.S.
    2. The March 20, 2020 Suspension of U.S visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.

03/19/2020 The U.S. Department of State Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.

Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.

Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.”

03/11/2020 Expanded Travel Ban Due to COVID-19

On March 11th, President Trump expanded the current travel ban on CDC-designated level 3 Travel Health Notice countries (mainland China excluding Macao and Hong Kong and Iran) to include the following European countries:

  • Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The expanded ban will go into effect after 11:59 pm, March 13th EST. Although the President stated in spoken remarks that the restriction would last 30 days, the Proclamation itself states that it “shall remain in effect until terminated by the President.”

02/06/2020 Nationwide Injunction of Accrual of Unlawful Presence 2019 Memo

On February 6, 2020, a federal district court issued a permanent nationwide injunction blocking the  August 8th, 2019 USCIS policy memo that sought to change how days of unlawful presence are counted following a violation of F, M, or J nonimmigrant status. This forces the immigration service to apply prior policy guidance based on its unlawful presence memo issued on May 6, 2009, under which unlawful presence does not begin accruing until an immigration judge finds a status violation, or an immigration officer finds a violation of status in the course of an application for an immigration benefit.

02/02/2020 Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus

On February 2, 2020, the Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus went into effect, banning entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants who were physically present within the People's Republic of China (excluding Macau and Hong Kong) during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the U.S. Exceptions will be made for lawful permanent residents and family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The ban is in effect until cancelled.

Guidance on travel restrictions to and from China are rapidly evolving. If you have any travel emergencies or questions about future travel plans, please contact ISPO for guidance.

01/27/2020 Supreme Court Lifts Injunction Against DHS’s Public Charge Rule

On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an October 11 2019 nationwide preliminary injunction that had prevented the administration from enforcing its public charge rule.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now permitted to implement and enforce its public charge rule while litigation continues in lower courts. For a short summary of this rule, see the 2019 posting in the archived drawer below.



Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can I travel outside of the United States? Can I get a visa renewed? Am I allowed to travel if I am a citizen of ____?

The International Students & Programs Office continues to recommend minimizing international travel due to the changing nature of the current administration’s policies on visa and entry into the United States. If you have any questions or concerns about immediate or essential international travel or visa renewal, please meet with an ISPO advisor.

Also, refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Executive Order Resources and Travel Advisory web pages.

2. If I am stopped, will immigration officers (CBP or ICE) accept my student ID and/or driver’s license as appropriate documentation?

The US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 requires foreign nationals to carry appropriate immigration-related documentation at all times. Appropriate documentation includes a valid passport, I-94 Non-immigrant Arrival/Departure Record, and for those persons in F or J status, the I-20 or DS-2019 form. Be prepared to present these original documents especially when going through airports, train stations, checkpoints, border crossings, and other transportation hubs.

3. Will my country of citizenship be a factor in my admission to UC San Diego?

UC San Diego welcomes applicants from the around the world. Applicants are evaluated based on their academic preparation and qualifications. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate student application process, visit:

4. What things could jeopardize my status? Should I participate in protests or demonstrations? What are my rights?

At any time, it is important to avoid any violations of your F-1 or J-1 status. In addition to enrollment requirements, address reporting, or employment restrictions, individuals in non-immigrant status are expected to refrain from breaking any U.S. state or federal laws.

What Rights Do I Have While in the U.S.?

U.S. constitutional law is complex however regardless of your immigration status, noncitizens generally have equal First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution*: 

  • Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion 
  • Freedom from illegal search and seizure (a law enforcement official must have a subpoena or warrant), unless a crime has been committed where the search would take place 
  • Permission to remain silent (and not say anything that could be used against you)
  • Guarantee of “due process” and “equal protection under the law”, which means that you have the right to an attorney, and a right to have a hearing before a judge in most cases
  • Right to contact your country’s Consulate

*Learn Liberty: The Constitutional Rights of Noncitizens and 2003: Cole, David: Georgetown Law, "Are Foreign Nationals Entitled to the Same Consitutional Rights as Citizens?"

Participating in Protests:

ISPO understands that choosing to protest is a very personal decision. Think carefully before engaging in protest activities as the potential to encounter or be approached by law enforcement is higher. If you choose to engage in protest activities, review the Amnesty International "Safety During Protest" information, the ACLU "Protesters' Rights" -  and print and carry the "Know Your Rights" card. 

What if I am Approached by U.S. Law Enforcement?

Review the following resources from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA). 

Arrests and Convictions:

Finally, understand that arrests can seriously impact immigration status or future visa applications

Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status. Be aware that while marijuana use is legal in many U.S. states, it remains illegal at the federal level and use constitutes a violation of federal law. Use of marijuana, or alcohol/drug-related DUI arrests or convictions can lead to severe immigration consequences ranging from fines, visa cancellation to deportation.

If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact ISPO immediately. In such cases, we urge you to retain immigration legal counsel and criminal legal counsel to advise you as to next steps and possible consequences.

5. Can I extend my program of study?

If you need additional time to complete your program of study at UC San Diego, you will need to identify an academic or medical reason for the extension.

  • Undergraduate Students: Please meet with your College advisor regarding questions about general requirements. Meet with your department advisor regarding questions about major/minor requirements.
  • Graduate Students: Please meet with your Faculty Advisor and Graduate Coordinator regarding questions about time limits, available funding, and reasons impacting your expected completion date.

6. What should I do if I am approached by a government officer?

Some individuals may be contacted by government officers or representatives to meet in a public location so they can discuss your current immigration status. In general, this does not have a negative impact on your status. ISPO and IFSO are available to hold the meeting in their offices or accompany you during the meeting with government officers or representatives. Please meet with an ISPO or IFSO advisor if you have any questions or concerns about these inquiries.

Additional tips for interacting with US law enforcement and understanding your rights is available with the American Civil Liberties Union:

7. Where can Undocumented Students find support?

The Undocumented Student Services Center provides legal support, resources, and information. On November 29, 2016, the University of California, California State University, and the California Community College System advocated to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allow California and the nation’s students known as Dreamers to continue to pursue their education in the United States.

8. What is ISPO and IFSO doing to advocate for international students and scholars?

ISPO and IFSO advocates for our international students and scholars on a campus and community level by continuing to provide education, training, and advising for campus partners and stakeholders regarding the complex issues facing our student and scholar population.

ISPO and IFSO also work in partnership with the campus administration and the University of California's Office of Federal Governmental Relations to advocate for regulations and policies supportive of our international community. Additionally, ISPO and IFSO work for advocacy through our membership in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.

9. Where can I find support if I have immigration concerns or questions? Where can I find support for stress and anxiety?

Please visit ISPO or IFSO with any immigration concerns or questions. Our advisers provide a welcoming, safe environment to discuss concerns you may have related to your visa status, as well as explore options and benefits available for your current or future plans. For complex issues beyond our scope, we can assist you in a referral to an immigration attorney.

Additional Campus Resources

Enrolled UC San Diego students can access resources through Counseling and Psychological Services, including individual confidential counseling appointments, groups, self-help tools, and more. UC San Diego employees and Visiting Scholars or postdocs can find support through the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program which provides free, confidential counseling and referrals.

10. What can I do now to make sure my record and documents are valid?

It is important to review your documents for accuracy and be aware of expiration dates.

  • Make sure the spelling of your first and last name match on your passport, visa, and I-20/DS-2019.
  • Check your passport expiration date. Make sure it is valid during your stay in the U.S. Apply for a new passport with your embassy or consulate when needed.
  • Check your visa expiration date. Make sure that your visa is valid before reentering the U.S. If it is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa. Remember: A visa is an entry permit into the U.S. It does not determine whether you can stay or work.
  • Print your current I-94 from the Customs & Border Protection website.
  • Make sure the major/field of study on your I-20/DS-2019 reflects your current information. If it is different, request a new I-20/DS-2019 as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the program end date on your I-20/DS-2019 has not expired. Request an I-20/DS-2019 extension at least 2-3 weeks before the expiration date.
  • Update/enter your local address, phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
    • Students: Update your record via TritonLink.
    • Faculty & Researchers: Notify IFSO.
    • Individuals on OPT/STEM OPT/Academic Training should submit their employment verification, local address, phone number, and email address via the Employment Verification Form 
If you have any questions, please contact your ISPO or IFSO advisor.

11. What can I do for a student or scholar who might be affected by an Executive Order?

  • Gather as many facts about the situation as possible, within the scope of your authority as an employee of your institution.
  • Identify what you might be able to do within the scope of your role at your institution, and refer individuals with issues, questions, or concerns that are beyond the scope of your role or ability to appropriate helpers.
  • Consult with an advisor in the International Students & Programs Office regarding international student issues and an advisor in the International Faculty & Scholar Office regarding international faculty and researcher issues.
  • Remember that you cannot dispense legal advice. Know when to encourage someone to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.
  • Notify stakeholders on your campus about the situation, through your normal supervisory chain

12. How do I contact the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) or International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO)?

  • ISPO Advisors for students: Walk-In Advising on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am-12pm & 1:00-4:00pm. Contact icontact.ucsd.edu or 858-534-3730.
  • IFSO Advisors for faculty and researchers: Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. Contact ischolars@ucsd.edu or 858-822-246-1448 to schedule an appointment.