U.S. Immigration Updates

International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) will use this page to share updates with students and scholars in F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 status whose I-20 or DS-2019 were issued by Notre Dame. Though drafts of future executive orders and policy updates may circulate, we will not address their content here until a finalized document is available. Please note that ISSA is not authorized to provide counsel beyond the information on this page, and the information and resources on this page should not be understood as legal advice. If you have questions, please consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney.  

Executive Orders and Impact

Updated September 18, 2018   

USCIS Issues Final Guidance on Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F and J Nonimmigrants

Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS changed its policy on how it counts the days of unlawful presence in the United States for those in F1, J1, and M1 immigration status and their dependents (in F2, J2, and M2 status) who violate their immigration status. While the regulatory requirements for maintaining immigration status have not changed, the consequences for failing to maintain immigration status are now more severe.

Under the previous policy, implemented in 1997, those in F1, J1, or M1 immigration status started accruing unlawful presence on the day after USCIS formally found a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for a benefit or after an immigration judge ordered the individual to be removed, whichever came first. 

Under new USCIS policy, effective August 9, 2018, the unlawful presence count begins the day after a status violation occurs, even if the nonimmigrant is not aware that a violation has occurred. Those nonimmigrants who violated their status prior to the policy implementation on August 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on August 9, 2018 unless the individual had already started accruing unlawful presence under the prior policy. If you are concerned about a possible status violation and the unlawful presence rule, we recommend you seek the counsel of an experienced immigration attorney. 

The new policy states that an F, J, or M nonimmigrant begins accruing unlawful presence, due to a failure to maintain his or her immigration status on or after August 9, 2018, on the earliest of any of the following: 

  • The day after the F or J nonimmigrant no longer pursues the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
  • The day after completing the course of study or program (including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period);
  • The day after the Form I-94 expires, if the F or J nonimmigrant was admitted for a date certain; or
  • The day after an immigration judge orders the F or J nonimmigrant excluded, deported, or removed. 

Per the new policy, nonimmigrants in F and J status who violate their status (even unknowingly) and who accrue days of unlawful presence in the U.S. based on the violation, may be subject to a 3-year or a 10-year bar on re-admission to the U.S., depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the U.S.

Notre Dame students in F-1 status should review the F-1 responsibilities for maintaining status, while students in J-1 status should review the J-1 responsibilities for maintaining status. F-1 students on OPT should review their additional responsibilities while on OPT or while on the STEM OPT Extension; J-1 students on Academic Training should review their additional responsibilities during Academic Training

It is the responsibility of F1 and J1 students and scholars and their dependents in F2 and J2 status to maintain their own immigration status. If students or scholars in F or J status are concerned about potential status violations, they should contact ISSA immediately to discuss the concerns and possible next steps. 

USCIS and USPS Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery Service

On April 30, USCIS began using the U.S. Postal Service's Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Green Cards, Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), and other secure documents that need to be mailed again after being returned to USCIS as undeliverable. USCIS plans to eventually expand the program to initial mailing of these documents by Fall 2019.  

Executive Orders and Impact 

On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's September 24, 2017 Executive Order, but this does not affect those students currently in the U.S. or those entering the U.S. in the F or J nonimmigrant category, unless they are from Syria or North Korea. See our notes below from September 24, 2017, for further information.

On December 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the an earlier travel ban could be fully implemented until further ruling in lower courts. This does not affect those students and scholars currently within the U.S. F-1 and J-1 students and scholars sponsored by the University of Notre Dame have a bona fide relationship as required by the proclamation. More information can be found here. If you have any questions about traveling over the break, please contact as issa@nd.edu or visit us during walk-in hours.  

Note that decisions as to entry or re-entry may be up to the discretion of consular officers and Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry so there are no guarantees regarding visa issuance or entry into the U.S.

ENHANCING VETTING CAPABILITIES AND PROCESSES FOR DETECTING ATTEMPTED ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES BY TERRORISTS OR OTHER PUBLIC-SAFETY THREATS was released. It suspends visa issuance and entry for citizens/nationals of countries of identified concern, including Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Citizens/nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to travel restrictions. This proclamation does not affect students and scholars already in the U.S. It also does not affect the travel and reentry plans for most students or scholars applying for or entering F-1 or J-1 visas. Three exceptions are Syrian, North Korean, and Iranian citizens. The entry of all nationals from Syria and North Korea, both immigrant and non-immigrant, has been suspended at this time. We do not advise travel outside the U.S. for those students. Also affected are Iranian student and scholars, who will be subjected to enhanced screening. Again, this proclamation does not affect students currently in the U.S. 

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed certain provisions of  the government’s 90-day travel ban for citizens of six countries (Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen) to be enforced while the Court prepares for a full review of the Travel Ban this Fall. 

However, the Court's order states that entry to the U.S. cannot be blocked to those individuals from the affected countries "who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” This bona fide relationship is said to include students admitted to a U.S. school and workers who accept an offer of employment from a U.S. employer, among others.

Based on examples provided in the Court's order, students and scholars who are nationals of the affected countries and are admitted or officially invited to Notre Dame can apply for a visa and if granted a visa, should be able to travel to the US. Additionally, an international student, scholar, or employee from one of the affected countries should be able to leave the U.S. during the summer and return with a valid visa to continue their studies, official visits, or employment at Notre Dame. 

On May 25, 2017, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruling maintained the freeze of the revised entry ban. This ruling means the government is still prevented from enforcing travel restrictions announced earlier this year. Please contact ISSA with any questions.

On April 18, 2017, the Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American was signed. The full text of this EO can be found at the Press Office site. As it affects international F-1 and J- visa holders who may want to pursue a work visa, this EO currently requires only a review of the existing rules around H-1B visas; there are no proposed changes at this time. We will update this page as proposed changes are announced.

On March 15, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Hawaii issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on the revised entry ban, preventing the government from enforcing the travel restrictions. This means the ban which was to go into effect on March 16, 2017, is currently stayed. Please contact ISSA with any questions you may have in relation to any of the Executive Orders.

Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States signed March 6, 2017

On March 6, 2017, an updated version of the Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States Executive Order was signed, which revokes Executive Order 13769.  The full text of this updated EO can be found on the whitehouse.gov site at Press Office: Executive Order Protecting Nation. A fact sheet of the order can be found on the Department of Homeland Security site and a summary can be found at AILA’s site. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

This EO affects foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who are outside the U.S. on the effective date of order, do not currently have a valid visa on the effective date of this order and did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017. They are not eligible to travel to the United States during the 90-day period. It is important to note that current F and J visa holders are eligible to travel in and out of the U.S., as long as the visa is valid.

This order does not apply to U.S. permanent residents, those with advance parole documents, dual nationals of the designated countries if they are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country, those with diplomatic visas, those already granted asylum or those refugees already admitted to the U.S. There are other exceptions, which can be reviewed in the "Waivers" section of the E.O.

This new order maintains the suspension of the visa interview waiver program, as noted below. It is highly likely that visa applicants will have to go in to the consulate for an interview, so be sure to give yourself time when applying for the visa and planning for travel to the U.S.

Federal Judge Blocks Parts of Executive Order

On February 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the federal government's motion for an emergency stay, which means that the determination on February 2 that the restrictions on travel were illegal is still being upheld. 

On February 2, 2017, a judge in western Washington ruled that the restrictions on travel into the U.S. by citizens from the 7 countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) was illegal. Despite this court order, ISSA still continues to advise extreme caution and no travel from the U.S. for those from the 7 countries as the situation could change again. The Executive Order and its implications are described in more detail below.

Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States signed January 27, 2017

The full text of this executive order can be found on the whitehouse.gov site at U.S. Presidential Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. A summary by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) can be found at Summary of Executive Order

This Executive Order addresses a number of issues that have an impact on international students and scholars. 

Visa Application - Interview Waiver

All visa applicants will now go to the consulate for an in-person appointment to apply for a new visa or renew a visa. This applies to all international students and scholars, regardless of country of origin. Though a court order was issued on February 3, its contents did not pertain to this section of the Executive Order. As of February 6, the suspension of the visa interview waiver program is still in effect. If you are planning a trip outside of the U.S. and will need to renew your visa, check with your local U.S. consulate as processes may have changed and wait times may be longer.

Entry Restrictions for Citizens of 7 Countries

Individuals from the following countries are impacted by the executive order, even if the traveler possesses a valid visa: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen. Individuals from these countries cannot enter the U.S. for a period of 90 days from day of signing. Despite the court challenge of February 2, which suspends this section of the order, ISSA strongly continues to advise that individuals from the 7 listed countries not travel out of the U.S. during this time, as the ban could be reinstated and affect reentry to the U.S. 

Clarifications of the Executive Order: Permanent Residents, Dual Nationals, and Applications/Petitions from Citizens of 7 Affected Countries

  • On February 1, 2017, a memo was released confirming that the entry of legal U.S. permanent residents (green card holders) from the 7 listed countries was deemed to be of national interest.
  • On February 1, another memo was released confirming that the executive order "does not restrict the travel of dual nationals from any country with a valid U.S. visa in a passport of an unrestricted country."
  • On February 3, a clarification was issued by USCIS in their Implementation of Executive Order that they would continue to adjudicate applications and process petitions for  nationals of the 7 affected countries whose "approval does not directly confer travel authorization."

Customs and Border Patrol released information at Statement and FAQs. AILA also has a summary of the Implementation of Executive Order, including the impact of the most recent court order.

Community Support

Statement regarding Executive Order from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President

Statement from Dr. Michael E. Pippenger, Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization

Notre Dame Observer Editorial Board: "Rescind this Order"

Notre Dame Observer Staff Report: "University and College respond to executive order"

"ND community members demonstrate in South Bend against Trump executive order" - The Observer

"South Bend protestors march in solidarity" - South Bend Tribune