Travel ban as of 10/18/2017

The latest version of the travel ban was set to take place today, October 18th, 2017, however, it has blocked.

If you are from a country that was listed on any travel ban this year, and you plan on traveling, discuss this with your school DSO or an immigration attorney. If you are considering traveling, it is safest if you already have a valid multiple entry visa and a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months from the day you plan to reenter the US.

 

The travel ban is

6-2-blocked-png-clipart

Advertisements

USCIS released information update on Executive Order of ‘Hire American’ telling us how many H1Bs have been issued this year so far

In order to provide transparency in carrying out Trump’s Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, USCIS has posted information on their yearly trends of H1B approvals.

As you can see, in the report, this year, 336,107 foreign nationals applied for H1B visas and 197, 129 received visas. This differs from the previous years where only about 50,000 people don’t receive visas.

It is possible that there are more denials, however, I would argue that we need to wait until we have another update from USCIS. I don’t believe that this chart takes into consideration the H1Bs that have not yet been approved. In the field, I have noticed more than normal amounts of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) being issued. This means that many people were not approved by October 1st, 2017, and their H1B petitions are still pending today. This chart only states how many people applied and were approved, it does not show information about pending cases.

Before we worry that H1B petition numbers are completely being cut, let’s see what numbers are like once the cases with RFEs have been resolved.

 

What is going on with visas in Turkey?

Currently, all diplomatic facilities in Turkey have suspended non-immigrant visa issuance. Non-immigrant visas are not being issued out of these facilities.

Some important things to note about this recent update:

-This is not a ban on Turkish passport holders, this is a suspension of embassy/consulate visa issuance inside of Turkey. It seems that a Turkish passport holder could get a visa in another country.

-No current valid visas will be revoked;

-If you have any travel plans outside of the US, please speak to your school or lawyer.

Media coverage has stated multiple times that both countries hope to resolve this as quickly as possible. So, hopefully, it will.

The Latest Travel Ban

Purpose of the new ban: To address countries that do not have sufficient internal identification systems, and internal and/or external information sharing methods for citizens who are applying for visas to the US. The US will use this reasoning to restrict entries from those countries.

Impact (if H, F, J, or M visas are not mentioned, they are not affected):

Country Restrictions
Chad, Libya, Yemen Not issuing B-1/B-2
Iran Only issuing F, J and M visas, these are subject to high scrutiny
North Korea, Syria All suspended
Venezuela Gov’t officials and their relatives cannot apply for B-1/B-2.

All other categories subject to high scrutiny

Somalia All immigrant visas suspended, non-immigrant visas subject to high scrutiny

 Useful things to know about Implementation:

  • Immigrant and non-immigrant visas are treated differently
  • If subject to Executive Order 13780 (2nd travel ban from 3/2017), goes into effect ton 9/24, if not formally subject goes into effect on 10/18
  • Impacts those who do not have a visa by 9/24 or 10/18 and are outside of the US (not affected if you are outside but have a visa)
  • No visa issued prior will be revoked
  • The exceptions to the immigrant arrivals include: Lawful Permanent Residents, Advanced Paroles, dual citizenship, refugees/asylum seekers, among others

Waivers:

  • A waiver can be issued on a case-by-case basis at CBP to be granted entry
  • One of the reasons for filing for a waiver is:

The foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation, seeks to re-enter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry would impair that activity;

And what we need to be aware of:

  • DHS and the Secretary of State will review other countries’ actions every 180 days to evaluate if this needs updating and will release a notice

 

If your home country is not listed above, your entry to the US should not be impacted by this in relation to this order.  It is always possible that you face difficulties when entering due to other reasons. Always make sure to check with your school or lawyer prior to travels. 

Charlottesville, white nationalism, and being a visa holder

170812-unite-the-right-rally-113p-rs_b7cee658a77271b027a95a05de0d2f84.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Everyone in the US must reflect on the events at Charlottesville.

The protesters were Unite the Right, White Nationalists, also sometimes called Alt-Right. These people that hold the belief that nonwhite persons are inferior. The event began with a white national protest wanting to keep a confederate statue of Robert E. Lee in place. This article provides good context for the debate removing confederate statues. The event was rooted in hate and violence. This ideology has been around forever, but with the new presidency, they have been given a safer platform to share their harmful beliefs, which is why you have been hearing about this a lot recently.

It is important for you as an F1, J1 or H1B visa holder to be aware of these organizations so that you can be aware that they exist all throughout the country. Be aware of their message, and find a place where you can outlet your feelings on these difficult topics. Historically, many people who hold this ideology will also have xenophobic and anti-immigrant perspectives. Some of these people will be politicians.

Even though you are not voting in the US, your input matters and people want to hear your opinions. Read about alt-right politicians. Let your community know your feelings and experience.

There are many news sources that might be run or strongly influenced by white nationalist ideology. As an informed reader, it’s your job to evaluate your new source and judge their perspective. Often times, these sources will share false information about immigration and immigrants, and this could feel scary or hurtful. I encourage you to dig deeper on facts and not to rely on one news source.

As an F1, J1 or H1B visa holder, you are permitted to protest. If you are arrested, this could put your visa in jeopardy. So, if you protest, please be careful. When protesting make sure to have proof of your status available (copies or on your phone) in case you are questioned by the authorities.

If you want to join the conversation on Charlottesville and other national events or find a safe space to learn more about what is going on, find a local social justice organization. To find a good group, talk to your peers, do a google search, or contact your university’s inclusion office for suggestions.

 

 

Are less F1 visas being issued in 2017?

f1-300x180

Are less F1 visas being issued in 2017?

According to the information that has been presented to US Universities by our SEVIS and Department of State Representatives, there is not currently a higher denial rate for F1 visas. So, it’s not currently more difficult to get an F1 visa, but that doesn’t mean fewer visas haven’t been issued this year.

About denials:

If you get denied a visa you can reapply.

If you get denied, carefully review the reason on your INA form. The Department of State offers some information here.  It might also be helpful to review reasons for denials. This list is for all visa categories, not just F1.

Reminder: An F1 visa is a non-immigrant intent visa. This basically means you have to show that it’s not your long-term plan to immigrate to the US (ie, become a permanent resident/get a green card). So even if that might be your plan, in your appointment, you want to prove your plan to return to your home country.

How do we know the visa numbers for 2017?

For the true numbers on F1 visa issuance, we will need to wait for the Annual Visa Issuance Report.

Until then, do not let the current atmosphere surrounding US immigration drive you crazy. The current and constant conversation Trump is having surrounds immigration, and F1 is a nonimmigrant intent visa. So, mentally separate your nonimmigrant intent situation from immigration chatter and go for your interview.

What’s up with the Travel Ban?

download

Information for F1, J1 and H-1B visa holders in regards to the “travel ban.”


Executive Order 13769 is what we commonly refer to as the Travel Ban.


The purpose of the Order (as cited in the order): 

“Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security.  Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States.” 


What you need to know

  • The ban relates to those from the following countries:
    • Iran
    • Libya
    • Somalia
    • Sudan
    • Syria
    • Yemen
  • Iraq has been removed from the ‘list, ‘ but all interviews for visas will be conducted and examined for any terrorist ties
  • Arrivals for refugees have been temporarily paused
  • Applicants from the countries above can prove a valid connection to the United States in order to obtain a visa (connections include, school invitation letter, family ties, work, etc. — so, I’m going to get my PhD here’s my I-20, and acceptance letter should be valid; I’m going to NYC for vacation = invalid)
  • If you are from one of the above-listed countries and find trouble in entering the US, you can apply for a waiver from Customs and Border Protection to issue a visa. For more information on the waiver, read the Executive Order
  • This is in regards to people entering the US, so if you are from one of these countries and you are in valid status, as long as you maintain your valid status, you should not worry yourself with deportation. If you are concerned because your status is expiring, your passport is expiring, you must travel, or something else, discuss it with your school or employer.

I’m not from one of the countries listed in the ban, what do I need to know?

  • Technically, this ban should not impact your entry to the US.
  • There is currently not a discussion to expand the list of countries.
  • Despite the conflicting messages out there, this isn’t a ‘Muslim ban.’ So, if you identify as Muslim and you feel like this is directed at you, remember what is written in the law is a prevention of those from the countries listed above who do not currently have ties to the US, not based on someone’s religious beliefs. If you believe you have experienced religious discrimination in your entry to the US, you should talk to a lawyer.
  • Remember the reason for the ban listed at the top? If that doesn’t apply to you, then technically the ban isn’t directed at you.

If this, in general, feels like it’s directed at you, think about how it’s not:

  • At port of entry,/in your personal records prove your legal status in the US (I-20, DS-2019, H1B approval notice)
  • Have documents that show your purpose in the US — Are you studying, doing an exchange program, working? Get your transcript, a bill showing you are paying tuition, a letter from your hosting department, or a letter from your employer. If you are on OPT, carry your EAD card, your I-20 and a letter from your employer.
  • If you are still concerned, check with your school or employer. If you are on F1 or J1, your school can update you on your status. If you are on H-1B, those who filed your petition (either your company itself or a lawyer working for your business) can help you check your status.
  • There is no need to consistently check your status, rarely significant changes happen overnight. Check in with your school or employer before any changes occur — taking a vacation/term off, graduation, ending your program/visa, etc.

I hope that this information provides you with a clear picture of this situation. With very skewed information floating around, often times universities will provide unbias updates on current immigration news. Universities have a vested interest in making sure you are permitted to stay in the US and also enter the US (you coming to school = money, diversity, global perspective, more students, etc. we would be nothing without our international populations!), so use your International Student, Scholar, and Faculty office for information.

This situation is incredibly stressful, and it can be helpful to discuss this topic and others with peers and other resources.

Cutting Immigration by 1/2?

You might have heard about Trump’s new proposal to slash immigration over the next 10 years.

What you need to know:

  • This has not yet taken place, Trump just gave support for this bill
  • This is called the RAISE Act
  • The general purpose is to award foreign nationals based on skills and language ability rather than family based petitions and if someone is physically present in the US.

How does this impact you? 

  • As of right now, it doesn’t so much. It’s just another relatively controversial bill supported by the administration.
  • What is probably most effective is to read about the RAISE Act, develop an opinion and discuss with your peers. With much misinformation floating around, the best thing you can do is be informed and help inform others.