Information on Immigration Policies

Wellesley Is Committed to Supporting Our Community Members Amid Changing Immigration Policy

This website provides information and policy updates to help inform the Wellesley College community on immigration and provide resources for students, faculty, and staff.

Please see the resources and events page for important information regarding COVID-19 resources.

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About the Working Group on Immigration Policy

In February 2017, President Johnson convened the Working Group on the Effects of Immigration Policy on the Wellesley Community in direct response to the Executive Order involving refugees and immigrants. In a statement to the community on January 27, 2017, President Johnson stated:

At every step in our response to this situation, we must remember that this is not abstraction; the consequences are disturbingly real for so many individuals and their families. We are committed to upholding our values and protecting our community, the community that makes us strong.  

The charge of the working group, as described by President Johnson was to:

  • Identify and to help the college to respond to the needs of students and other members of the community who may be feeling vulnerable in light of the quickly changing political climate and regulations related to immigration and refugee status

  • Advise the Senior Leadership of the College on how to best support members of the college community to uphold the commitment to a residential learning environment free from hostility and fear

The working group consists of 20 faculty, staff and students across the college representing junior and senior faculty across academic departments and including college divisions and programs such as the Slater International Center, Human Resources, Intercultural Education, Public Safety, Career Education, Provost’s Office and the Alumnae Association.

The college has continually supported the needs and experiences of immigrant and refugee members of the community, and the working group continues in that spirit. Since its inception, the working group has developed connections and initiated conversations with impacted community members and groups to ensure that the goals of the group are rooted in community needs and experiences. We have identified some key areas that deserve our attention and have made progress in those areas through the following ways:

Security and Well-Being: Most immediately, we have worked with colleagues across the college to ensure the safety and well-being of students and the broader community, particularly those who may feel vulnerable during this time. For our students who may experience difficulty traveling during this period, we provided opportunities for them to remain on campus through spring break.

Policy and Communication: We continue to monitor developments in immigration policies that may impact travel, employment, faculty research, and the general livelihood of community members and their families. We have enhanced our website communication about external policy developments and the resources available to students, faculty and staff.

Community Education and Engagement: Community members have questions about the changing nature of policies and its impact on immigrant and refugee communities. This is an opportunity to enhance our knowledge, promote dialogue on issues that are important to us and provide avenues for action and engagement. To this end, we have created a series of town hall meetings and workshops this spring to build awareness about immigration policies and encourage dialogue and engagement in these issues.

Advocacy: We have continued President Johnson’s fall 2016 efforts to identify and provide resources that support the Wellesley community such as opportunities offered by alumnae and access to immigration counsel. We have also identified a need to provide greater support for at-risk scholarship—scholarship that is impeded by travel restrictions or reductions in federal funding. We continue to explore the ways Wellesley can collaborate with other institutions to advocate policies and legislation that support immigrant and refugee communities.

As policies evolve and develop, so too will the emphasis and direction of this working group. We remain committed to supporting those who are impacted and made vulnerable by immigration policies and also seek to build greater awareness and engagement to uphold our values and support our community.

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Contact the group

To facilitate communication with the working group, we include the names and contact information of representative members below:

  • Mared Alicea-Westort

    Mared Alicea-Westort

    Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education, Advisor to Latinx Students and Mixed Race Students Organizations
    maliceaw@wellesley.edu
  • Teofilo Barbalho

    Teofilo Barbalho

    Administrative Assistant, Office of Intercultural Education
    tbarbalh@wellesley.edu
  • Lisa Barbin

    Lisa Barbin

    Chief of Police
    lbarbin@wellesley.edu
  • Catia Confortini

    Catia Confortini

    Associate Professor and Co-Director, Peace & Justice Studies Program
    cconfort@wellesley.edu
  • Gloria Figueroa

    Gloria Figueroa

    Coffee Shop Attendant, Wang Food Service
    gfiguer2@wellesley.edu
  • Angela Guerrero

    Angela Guerrero

    Director of Exploration and Experiential Learning, Wellesley Career Education
    emandevi@wellesley.edu
  • Hannah Hudson

    Hannah Hudson

    Marketing Project Manager, Communications & Public Affairs
    hhudson@wellesley.edu
  • Elizabeth Mandeville

    Elizabeth Mandeville

    Director of Exploration and Experiential Learning, Wellesley Career Education
    emandevi@wellesley.edu
  • Ines Maturan Sendoya

    Ines Maturan Sendoya

    Chair of Working Group on the Effects of Immigration Policy on the Wellesley Community Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion and Engagement, Office of Intercultural Education
    imaturan@wellesley.edu
  • Ayana McCoy

    Ayana McCoy

    Assistant Director, Science Center
    amccoy3@wellesley.edu
  • Jennifer Musto

    Jennifer Musto

    Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies
    jmusto@wellesley.edu
  • Ana Ortega

    Ana Ortega

    Student, class of 2022
  • Mariah Quintero

    Mariah Quintero

    Student, class of 2021
  • Marlen Renderos

    Marlen Renderos

    Student, class of 2021
  • Tana Ruegamer

    Tana Ruegamer

    Director of Slater International Center and International Student and Scholar Advisor
    truegame@wellesley.edu
  • Carolyn Slaboden

    Carolyn Slaboden

    Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and EO
    cslaboden@wellesley.edu
  • Cammi Valdez

    Cammi Valdez

    Program Director, Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program
    cvaldez2@wellesley.edu

 

Important Updates to Help Inform the Wellesley College Community on Immigration

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6.22.20 Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Nonimmigrants
On June 22, 2020 the Trump administration amended and expanded its April 22, 2020 Immigration Proclamation. This new order will become effective as of 12:01 A.M. on June 24, 2020 ("Effective Date") and extends to December 31, 2020.

 

 

Below please find a summary of the key points: 
  • The proclamation restricts the entry into the United States of persons in the following non-immigrant visa categories and also applies to their dependent family members:
    • H-1B or H-2B visa holders and their H-4 dependents;
    • J visa holders ONLY in the following categories: intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and their J-2 dependents; and
    • L visa holders and their L-2 dependents.
  • The suspension applies to individuals seeking entry into the United States in the visa categories noted above who:
    • are outside the United States as of the Effective Date;
    • do not already have a valid non-immigrant visa; and,
    • do not have a valid official travel document other than a visa (such as transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) as of the Effective Date or issued thereafter.
  • The suspension does not apply to:
    • Lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders);
    • Any foreign national who is the spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a United States citizen;
    • Foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain;
    • Foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.
  • The proclamation directs the Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security to establish standards for which foreign nationals meet the criteria of "national interest" exemption above, and specifically includes:
    • Foreign nationals critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States;
    • Foreign nationals involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
    • Foreign nationals involved with the provision of medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19; and,
    • Foreign nationals who are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.
  • The proclamation also automatically extends the April 22, 2020 order suspending entry by certain new immigrants until December 31, 2020.  Please refer to our prior summary at: http://iandoli.com/newsandupdates?offset=1591023772029.
     
Importantly, the proclamation does not restrict the filing, adjudication, or approval of applications and petitions filed with USCIS.  Therefore, the filing with USCIS of applications by employers wishing to sponsor H-1B, H-2B, L-1 or institutions authorized to issue documents under the J-1 exchange program, or individuals seeking to change to or extend these nonimmigrant categories are not impacted by this proclamation.
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6.18.20. U.S. Supreme Court Holds That the Rescission of DACA by Trump Administration Was Unlawful

U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the administration's plan to dismantle an Obama-era program that has protected 700,000 so-called DREAMers from deportation. The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion. Read more.

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04.23.20 Department of Education Excludes DACA Recipients from Emergency Grants

The U.S. Department of Education recently released guidance (page 4, question 9) clarifying that only students eligible for Title IV funds (thereby excluding DACA recipients and undocumented students) are eligible for Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act. The NYT and USA Today covered our support of DACA recipients for these grants and we will continue to advocate on this issue.

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04.22.20 Trump Administration announces Executive Order banning immigration

The Trump administration issues an Executive Order banning all immigrants. Under the order, the entry of all immigrants currently not in the United States is suspended for 60 days. The exemptions from this ban include current immigrant visa holders or those with current travel documents, lawful permanent residents, certain health care professionals, EB-5 visa holders, immigrants who are spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens, and other specified categories. This ban does not impact nonimmigrants seeking admission to the United States, including international students and scholars. Read the Executive Order.

 

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04.01.20 USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended Until May 3 or Longer

On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.

USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.

USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the office in your jurisdiction has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.

Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.

USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.

 

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03.25.20 DHS Announces Limited Flexibility in Requirements Related to Form I-9 Compliance COVID-19 and the I-9 In-Person Inspection of Documents Requirement

Employers are required to verify a new employee's identity and legal authorization to work in the U.S. by reviewing original documents and completing Section 2 of the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) in person within three business days of the first day of employment. As many employers and their employees across the U.S. are telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are finding it nearly impossible to comply with this rule.

In limited recognition of the dilemma many employers are facing, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March20, 2020 that the agency will temporarily suspend the in-person review of documents normally required to complete the Form I-9 for employers who have transitioned to a telecommuting policy for a 60-day period, or for three days following the end of the COVID-19 emergency, whichever date is earlier.

NOTE:

  • Employers with any employees physically present at a worksite do not qualify for this exemption.
  • Physical review requirement is temporarily suspended, not eliminated.

Employers reviewing copies of documents or via other remote applications should enter "COVID-19" as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 "Additional Information" field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.

  • On the date businesses return to normal, employees have 3 business days to present their original documents to their employer for physical review. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 if the originally presented work authorization has been updated since remotely reviewed.
  • Timing requirements for completion of the Form I-9 are still the same; Section 1 must still be completed by the employee on or before their first day of work, and Section 2 document review (even if remote) must be completed by the employer (or their authorized representative) within three business days of the start of employment.
  • Employers who have received a Notice of Intent to Fine (NOI) in March 2020 are also granted automatic 60-day extension to respond.

Please see the official announcement.

 

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03.20.20 Electronic Signatures Allowed Temporarily

Normally, USCIS requires USCIS forms contain original or "wet" ink signatures when submitted to USCIS. Due to the unprecedented situation of telecommuting and numerous jurisdictions with sheltering in place orders, USCIS announced on Friday, March 20, that forms may be submitted with copies of original signatures until further notice.

 

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03.20.20 USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for Forms I-129 and I-140

USCIS announced "the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service, in accordance with the premium processing service criteria.

This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories: I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2. I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.

The suspension includes new premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2021, petitions from previous fiscal years, and all H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap. USCIS previously announced the temporary suspension of premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject petitions and tentative dates for resumption of premium processing service. This announcement expands upon and supersedes the previous announcement."

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03.20.20 Suspension of Visa Appointments

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. Our overseas missions will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time

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02.12.20 Federal Court Issues Permanent Injunction Against Implementation of Proposed Unlawful Presence Policy

A federal court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the Trump administration to implement its proposed unlawful presence policy, which would prevent international students from entering the country for minor administrative violations or mistakes. Wellesley College had joined an amicus brief to argue against that policy.

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03.20.20 Broader sweep of countries not permitted to enter the U.S. by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health & Human Services

Notification of a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) order suspending the introduction into the United States of persons from a country where a communicable disease exists, due to the existence of COVID-19 in certain foreign countries. The order is effective at 11:59 pm (ET) on 3/20/20. The order does not apply to United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, persons from foreign countries who hold valid travel documents, or persons from foreign countries in the visa waiver program who are not subject to travel restrictions.

Executive Orders China, Iran, Schengen Countries, Ireland and U.K.:

  • China Travel Proclamation: This Corona Virus travel ban became effective starting 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 2, 2020.
  • Iran Travel Proclamation: This Corona Virus travel ban became effective starting 5 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 5 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020.
  • European Schengen Area Proclamation: This proclamation became effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020. Note: the European Schengen area includes: 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.
  • Ireland and United Kingdom Proclamation: This proclamation became effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020.

The proclamations do not apply to U.S. citizens, or to any person who is:

  1. A lawful permanent resident of the United States
  2. A spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  3. A parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21
  4. A sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21
  5. A child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications
  6. A person traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus
  7. C (transit) or D (air or sea crew member) nonimmigrants seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa
  8. A person whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee; a person whose entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee
  9. A person whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees

Canada & Mexico:

Two Executive Orders related to travel from Canada and Mexico were announced and became effective as of 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 20, 2020 with official publication scheduled for March 24, 2020. These restrictions are temporary in nature and shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 20, 2020.

For purposes of the temporary alteration in certain designated ports of entry operations authorized under 19 U.S.C. 1318(b)(1)(C) and (b)(2), travel through the land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the United States-Canada border and United States-Mexico border shall be limited to "essential travel," which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States
  2. Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States)
  3. Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions
  4. Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work)
  5. Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies)
  6. Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada)
  7. Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel
  8. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States
  9. Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations

The following travel does not fall within the definition of "essential travel" for purposes of this notification:

  • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).

At this time, this Notification does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Canada, and the United States and Mexico but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and these countries.

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01.31.20 Expanded Travel Ban Announcement and Fact Sheet

The Trump administration announced an expanded list of countries with limited entry into the U.S. Please read this fact sheet for more information.

 

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03.02.20 TPS Extension for Yemen

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security is extending the designation of Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 4, 2020, through September 3, 2021. The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through September 3, 2021, so long as they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements for TPS. This notice also sets forth procedures necessary for nationals of Yemen (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) to re-register for TPS and to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will issue new EADs with a September 3, 2021, expiration date to eligible beneficiaries under Yemen’s TPS designation who timely reregister and apply for EADs under this extension. Read more.

 

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01.30.20 U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay of the Nationwide Injunction Against DHS’s Public Charge Rule

As of Tuesday January 22, 2019, The U.S. Supreme Court granted the administration’s request for a stay of the nationwide injunction against DHS’s public charge rule, clearing a path for DHS to implement the public charge rule within the United States, except for Illinois, which has gained a statewide injunction of its own.

NAFSA has a helpful page on Final Rules on Public Charge Determinations for more information.

 

Previous Updates

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Updates from 2019

11/12/2019 Government Must Have Reasonable Suspicion of Digital Contraband Before Searching People’s Electronic Devices at the U.S. Border

Boston, MA - In a major victory for privacy rights at the border, a federal court in Boston ruled today that suspicionless searches of travelers’ electronic devices by federal agents at airports and other U.S. ports of entry are unconstitutional. Read more.

 

11/04/2019 Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status Designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a Federal Register notice extending the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan through Jan. 4, 2021.

The notice automatically extends the validity of Employment Authorization Documents; Forms I-797, Notice of Action; and Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Record (collectively, TPS-related documentation). For more information, see the notice and the TPS page on the USCIS website.

 

10/28/2019 TPS Work Permits for El Salvadorans Extended Through January 2021

DHS announced that the administration is extending validity of work permits for Salvadorans with TPS through January 4, 2021. The administration is also providing Salvadorans with TPS an additional 365 days after the conclusion of TPS-related lawsuits to repatriate to their home country.

 

10/4/2019 Wellesley signs Amicus Brief in defense of DACA.

Wellesley joins 165 higher education institutions in signing an Amicus Brief in defense of DACA.

 

10/04/2019 President Trump issues a proclamation by which immigrants must have approved health care insurance within 30 days of entry.

President Trump issued a proclamation suspending the entry of immigrants who “will financially burden the U.S. healthcare system," requiring immigrants to have approved health care insurance within 30 days of entry. This rule is effective on November 3, 2019. Read more about the rule.

 

9/30/2019 Following public outcry, USCIS resumed consideration for non-military action requests

Non-military "deferred action" is a form of temporary relief from deportation for immigrants facing special and often life-threatening circumstances. Read more about the announcement.

 

09/23/2019 Temporary Protective Status for Syria was extended from October 1, 2019, through March 31, 2021.

The deadline for registration is November 22, 2019. Read more about the extension.

 

09/16/2019 Wellesley College signs a letter of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM) expressing concerns regarding delays to visa processing and other issues.

The letter was sent to the Massachusetts Congregational Delegation and expressed concerns regarding the delays to visa processing for international students, requests for Optional Practical training, and other issues. The letter discussed the negative impact of these practices on the regional economy and its ability to attract new talent.

 

09/11/2019 Three federal district judges issue injunctions against the U.S's Citizenship and Immigration Services's public charge rule.

Federal judges in three states—New York, California and Washington—have issued temporary injunctions against the Trump administration's "public charge" rule, preventing it from taking effect on October 15. The rule would bar millions of immigrants from obtaining legal status.

 

08/23/2019 If your DACA expires before the end of 2020, you should consider renewing now.

Watch this video to learn more.

 

08/14/2019 Department of Homeland Security published a final rule on public charge grounds of inadmissibility.

On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule on public charge grounds of inadmissibility. Unless litigation stops implementation of the rule, it will go into effect on October 14, 2019. To learn more, please visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

 

07/02/2019 Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens (I-864s)

On May 23, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. As part of USCIS’ implementation of this memorandum, USCIS officers will now be required to remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities under existing law and regulations. This new Memorandum is part of the President’s directive to enforce the public charge ground of inadmissibility.

As background, most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, when they apply for status as a lawful permanent resident. The individual executing the affidavit of support, whether sponsor, substitute sponsor, or joint sponsor, agrees to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant who applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident.

Since Dec. 19, 1997, federal law has required an immigrant’s sponsor to reimburse any benefit granting entity in the event the sponsored immigrant applies for or receives means-tested public benefits. The law also requires that, if a benefit-granting entity is notified that a sponsored immigrant is receiving a means-tested public benefit, the benefit-granting entity request reimbursement from the sponsor(s). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 states that when an individual with an affidavit of support applies for a federal means-tested benefit, the income and resources of the sponsor and the sponsor’s spouse are deemed to be income and resources when determining the immigrant’s eligibility for the benefit.

More information.

 

07/02/2019 Increased Fees for International Students, Scholars, Exchange Visitors, and SEVP-Certified Schools

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finalized changes to fees charged by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to international students, exchange visitors and SEVP-certified schools. The new fees took effect June 24, 2019.

Fee increases include:

  • The I-901 SEVIS Fee for F and M international students increased from $200 to $350.

  • DHS maintained the $35 I-901 SEVIS Fee for J exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work travel program participant categories, but increased the full I-901 SEVIS Fee for other J exchange visitors from $180 to $220.

  • The SEVP school certification petition fee for initial certification increased from $1,700 to $3,000.

New fees include:

  • A $1,250 fee for SEVP-certified schools filing a petition for recertification.

  • A $675 fee when schools file the Form I-290B, “Notice of Appeal or Motion.”

  • DHS maintained the $655 fee for an initial school site visit but will also charge this fee when a SEVP-certified school changes its physical location or adds a new physical location or campus to its Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student.”

Regulation requires all prospective international students, scholars, and exchange visitors to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before the U.S. Department of State issues a visa. Students and exchange visitors who paid the I-901 SEVIS Fee prior to the fee implementation date, but before they obtain a visa or enter the United States, will not need to pay the difference between the new fee and the old fee. Students and exchange visitors will continue to pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee on FMJfee.com. Schools will continue to pay all fees related to the Form I-17 at Pay.gov. Should a school file an initial certification or recertification petition, petition update or Form I-290B, and it is not adjudicated before the fee implementation date, the school will not be required to pay the new or increased fee retroactively.

More information.

 

06/04/2019 Treasury and Commerce Implement Changes to Cuba Sanctions Rules

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) unveiled amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement the President’s foreign policy on Cuba. These amendments complement changes to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR). These regulatory changes were announced on April 17, 2019 and include restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba.

Please read the press release and visit the Cuba sanctions resource page to help understand the decision and its impact.

 

05/10/2019 Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of TPS Designations for Nepal and Honduras

The TPS designations of Nepal and Honduras will remain in effect, as required by the order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California adopting the parties' stipulation to stay proceedings in Bhattarai v. Nielsen, No. 19-cv-00731 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 12, 2019), pending final disposition of the Government's appeal of the preliminary injunction order in Ramos v. Nielsen enjoining implementation and enforcement of the determinations to terminate the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador, or by other order of the court. DHS will not terminate TPS for Honduras or Nepal pending final disposition of the Ramos appeal, including through any additional appellate channels in which relief may be sought, or by other order of the court. Information on the status of the order to stay proceedings and the Ramos v. Nielsen appeal is available at http://uscis.gov/tps.

Please read the full notice to help understand the decision and its impact.

 

05/06/2019 Injunction Issued on Unlawful Presence Policy for F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders

The US Court grants an injunction, blocking the August 9, 2018 Policy Memorandum: “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” Several colleges had filed a lawsuit in October 2018 against the Department of Homeland Security arguing that Unlawful Presence memo was unlawful because it did not go through the required regulatory process, the policy change was arbitrary and capricious, it conflicted with the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act that created the concept of unlawful presence, and violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The Court therefore concluded that, under the circumstances of this case, a nationwide preliminary injunction is appropriate. Defendant United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shall be enjoined from enforcing the policy set forth in the August 2018 Policy Memorandum, in all its applications nationwide, pending resolution of this lawsuit. With this injunction and until further order of the Court, we revert back to the previous rules which had been in operation for over 20 years. That is, in the event that USCIS formally finds a violation of F-1 status, the student would only begin accruing unlawful presence the day after the decision is made.

Update courtesy the website of Iandoli, Desai, and Cronin.

 

03/08/2019 DHS Extends TPS for South Sudan

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen has announced her determination that an extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for South Sudan is warranted pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. After carefully reviewing conditions in South Sudan with interagency partners, Secretary Nielsen determined the ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support South Sudan’s current designation for TPS continue to exist. Therefore, pursuant to the statute, she has extended South Sudan’s TPS designation for 18 months.

Current beneficiaries under South Sudan’s TPS designation will be eligible to re-register for an extension of their status for 18 months, through November 2, 2020. Prior to the conclusion of the 18-month extension, the Secretary will review conditions in South Sudan to determine whether the TPS designation should be extended again or terminated.

The decision to extend TPS for South Sudan was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s designation is based. Following careful consideration of available information, including recommendations received as part of an interagency consultation process, the Secretary determined that the conditions supporting South Sudan’s designation for TPS continue to exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be extended.

There are 84 South Sudan TPS beneficiaries. This 18-month extension of South Sudan’s designation for TPS permits current beneficiaries under South Sudan’s TPS designation to re-register for TPS and remain in the United States with work authorization through November 2, 2020. To be eligible for TPS under South Sudan’s current designation, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since January 25, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since May 3, 2016.

Further details about this extension for TPS, including information about the re-registration process and employment authorization documents, will appear in a Federal Register notice.

 

03/05/2019 Updates on Unlawful Presence Memo

As previously reported, USCIS published its finalized Unlawful Presence Memo regarding students and certain scholars, referred to as F, J, and M nonimmigrants. This change in USCIS policy regarding the accrual of unlawful presence for F, J, and M nonimmigrants not only has an immediate effect on students and exchange visitors and their dependents, but for those unaware of a violation of status, the resulting effect can be devastating and long lasting.

Under the new policy, unlawful presence begins to accrue 1) the day after a status violation, if the violation occurs on or after August 9, 2018; or 2) on August 9, 2018, if the violation occurred prior to August 9, 2018.

After the student has been unlawfully present for 180 consecutive days, the student is barred from re-entering the U.S. for three years, and after being unlawfully present for a year, the student is barred from re-entry for a decade. 180 days has now passed from August 9, 2018. While there is pending litigation, the court has granted a temporary restraining order barring the application of the USCIS unlawful presence policy, specific only to the two individual named plaintiffs.

Should you have concerns regarding the unlawful presence policy, please feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys (info@iandoli.com). Read more.

 

03/01/2019 USCIS Notice on Extension of TPS Documentation for Beneficiaries from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador

USCIS notice announcing the automatic extension of TPS documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador until 1/2/20 in order to ensure continued compliance with the preliminary injunction in Ramos v. Nielsen. (84 FR 7103, 3/1/19).

 

02/26/2019 U.S. Embassy in Bogota Begins Processing Venezuelan Immigrant Visas

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela has suspended routine visa services due to the ordered departure of non-emergency personnel. Nonimmigrant visa applications may be submitted at an Embassy or Consulate outside of Venezuela. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia has been designated as the primary site to process immigrant visas for residents of Venezuela. Read more.

 

02/15/2019 Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) reintroduce the Higher Education Dream Act of 2019.

This bill would prohibit institutions that receive federal funds from refusing to admit, enroll, or grant in-state tuition benefits to qualified students based on their immigration status. It would also expand federal financial aid opportunities to DREAMers.

 

02/11/2019 TPS Holders from Honduras, Nepal Sue Trump: Bhattarai v. Nielsen

Six adults with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and two U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to stop the unlawful termination of TPS for over 100,000 TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal and prevent the separation of tens of thousands of U.S. citizen children from their TPS-holder parents.

 

02/04/2019 Changes to H-1B Lottery Process.

In the Fall, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a Merit-Based Rule for More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program, which would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B petitions subject to the regular cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. The proposed rule would also reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption, changing the process so that the 65,000 "Regular cap" lottery is run first, followed by the 20,000 "Master's cap" lottery.

DHS posted on January 30, 2019 for public inspection, a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption.

  • The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption. The rule will go into effect on April 1, 2019 for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season.

  • The rule also introduces the electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. However, USCIS will be suspending the electronic registration requirement for this cap season to complete user testing and ensure the system and process are fully functional.

  • Once implemented, the electronic registration requirement will require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. Only those whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019.

 

02/04/2019 No Action on Administration's Request to Expedite DACA Ruling.

As of Tuesday January 22, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court had taken no action on a November 2018 request by the Trump Administration to expedite a ruling on the court decisions that keep the DACA program in place. As a result, it is increasingly likely that the earliest the Supreme Court would hear the case – if at all – is in its new term that starts October 2019. If that prediction holds true, DACA protections will likely remain in place under current court rulings through at least the end of 2019.

 

02/04/2019 Federal District Court Issues a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the "Unlawful Presence" Challenge.

On August 9, 2018, USCIS published its finalized Unlawful Presence Memo regarding students and certain scholars, referred to as F, J, and M nonimmigrants. This change in USCIS policy regarding the accrual of unlawful presence for F, J, and M nonimmigrants not only has an immediate effect on students and exchange visitors and their dependents, but for those unaware of a violation of status, the resulting effect can be devastating and long lasting.

On October 23, 2018, a group of higher education institutions challenged the Unlawful Presence policy change that could open up more international students to harsh immigration penalties, and filed a lawsuit in North Carolina federal court (Guilford College v. Neilsen, 10/23/18) asserting that the policy change will hurt both the students and American universities.

This past January 28, 2019, the court granted a temporary restraining order, barring application of the new USCIS unlawful presence policy to the two individual named plaintiffs. The TRO does not offer protection yet to other persons from the effects of the unlawful presence memorandum.

A hearing has been set for arguments on the merits on March 26, 2019.

Read here.

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Updates from 2018

11/09/2018 White House issues new rules pertaining to asylum

  • President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Friday, November 9, 2018, to go into effect on November 10 to deny asylum to immigrants who do not enter the country through an authorized port of entry. These new rules aim to dismantle the protections afforded by the Refugee Act of 1980 that state that individuals and families can apply to asylum regardless of how she or he enters the country. According to the Boston Bar Association “under the new rules, those who cross the border will have to choose between waiting at already overcrowded ports of entry, returning to potentially unsafe conditions in their home countries, or crossing between ports and thereby forfeiting the opportunity to apply for asylum.”
  • The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued in federal court in Northern California to stop the regulations.

 

10/03/2018 DV-2020 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration

  • The DV-2020 diversity visa lottery submission period opens on October 3 at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) and closes on November 6 at 12:00 p.m. (EST). Additional information on eligible countries and other eligibility criteria can be found in the  September 25, 2018, Federal Register notice at 83 FR 48499. Traditionally, the U.S. State Department does not update its Electronic Diversity Visa Applicant Entry System until the registration period opens.

 

08/15/2018 USCIS Updates Policy Guidance for Certain Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

  • A policy memorandum effective September 11, 2018 gives USCIS adjudicators the discretion to deny an application, petition, or request without first issuing a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny in case where the request does not include the necessary evidence or the evidence does not meet eligibility. This policy does not apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) requests received after that date. Additional information is available at USCIS updates and policy website.

 

08/09/2018 Memorandum of Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J and M Nonimmigrants

  • On August 9, 2018, a Policy Memorandum on “Accrual of Unlawful Presence a F, J, and M Nonimmigrants went into effect. This memo marks a change in the way in which periods of unlawful presence are calculated for students and exchange visitors who remain in the country pass the completion of their academic or training program. Under this new policy the date in which the individual begins to accrue unlawful presence is not tied to an official determination but to the information entered by the school/training sponsor in SEVIS. Thus, it is very important for students and exchange visitors to carefully review the information contained in their SEVIS record and correct any discrepancies. Individuals and their dependents over the age of 18 years’ old who accrue time of unlawful presence might be bar from entering the US anything between 3 and 10 years.

 

06/26/2018 Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban 3.0

  • The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban, ruling that the Sept. 24, 2017, proclamation that currently applies to seven countries—Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen—was within the president’s constitutional authority. NASFA describes how travel by nationals of each country is affected.

 

02/26/2018 Supreme Court announces it will not take up the DACA case at this time

  • The case returns to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California to follow the normal appeals process. The ruling could take place this summer.

 

02/02/2018 DHS Announces Extension of TPS for Syria

 

01/13/2018 USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.

  • USCIS will again be adjudicating DACA renewals under the same terms in place before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017. USCIS will not be accepting initial applications from those who have never been granted DACA nor will it accept advance parole applications from DACA recipients. If one previously had DACA, but it expired before September 5, 2016, DACA must be requested as an initial request, rather than as a renewal.

 

01/11/2018 The President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which President Paula Johnson is a founding member, sent a letter to Congressional leaders on the issue of DACA.

  • As reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration's letter to Congress said in part, "Changes to immigration laws that more properly belong in a comprehensive immigration reform measure deserve more thoughtful deliberation, consideration and negotiation than are feasible in the rapidly closing window of time available to address this problem."

 

01/10/2018 U.S. District Judge blocks DACA phaseout

  • Unless halted by a higher court, a ruling issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco will allow former DACA recipients who failed to renew by an October 5 deadline a chance to submit renewal applications and will also require the administration to allow renewal of applications expiring in the future.

 

01/08/2018 Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announces her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador.

  • The decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador has a delayed effective date of 18 months before the designation terminates on September 9, 2019. Holders of TPS from El Salvador who wish to maintain their TPS and Employment Authorization Documents through 9/9/19 must re-register for TPS in accordance with the procedures set forth in the notice. The 60-day re-registration period runs from 1/18/18 through 3/19/18.
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Updates from 2017

12/15/2017 President Johnson joins the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration as one of the founding presidents and chancellors.

  • This group is an alliance of American college and university leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses and communities. We support policies that create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented and international students on our campuses.

 

 

12/15/2017 DHS notices on TPS designation for Nicaragua and Honduras

 

12/01/2017 Legal counsel is available to Wellesley College community members.

 

12/08/2017 Travel Ban 3.0 in Effect

  • On December 8, 2017, four days after the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Administration's application for a stay of the 9th Circuit's injunction, the Departments of State and Homeland Security fully implemented President Trump's latest travel ban, commonly referred to as Travel Ban 3.0. The Supreme Court's action allows the travel ban to proceed while litigation challenging the ban on statutory and constitutional grounds proceeds before the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeal. The restrictions imposed by the Trump Administration apply to citizens of eight countries and are summarized by the State Department in a chart.
  • Per its terms, Travel Ban 3.0 does not apply to a citizen of one of the named countries who:
    1. was in the United States on the effective date of Travel Ban 3.0-September 24 (or October 18 if the foreign national had a bona fide connection to a person or entity within the U.S. on September 24) regardless of immigration status;

    2.  had a valid visa on the applicable effective date;

    3. qualified for a visa or other valid travel document under section 6(d) of the Travel Ban, which relates to visas and travel documents which were revoked by Travel Ban 1.0 and 2.0;

    4. is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States;

    5. is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date;

    6. has a document other than a visa, valid on the applicable effective date for that applicant or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as advance parole;

    7. is a dual national traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;

    8. is traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa; except certain Venezuelan government officials and their family members traveling on a diplomatic-type B-1, B-2, or B1/B2 visas; and,

    9. has been granted asylum; admitted to the United States as a refugee; or has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

  • Unlike Travel Ban 1.0 and 2.0, Travel Ban 3.0 imposes indefinite restrictions. Litigation pending at the 9th and 4th Circuits is expected to reach the Supreme Court in expedited fashion and may even be heard by the Court this term.

 

11/20/2017 Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announces her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti.

 

11/6/2017 Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Nicaragua.

 

11/6/2017 Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke determines that additional information is necessary regarding the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras.

As a result, TPS designation for Honduras will be extended for six months from the current January 5, 2018 date of expiration to the new expiration date of July 5, 2018.

 

 

9/24/2017 Administration issues Presidential Proclamation on screening and vetting entry into the United States

On September 24, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” The proclamation is an update of the March 6, 2017 restrictions on travel by citizens of designated countries. It removes Sudan from the list of countries with travel restrictions and adds North Korea, Chad and Venezuela to the existing list that includes Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. The Department of State has posted an Alert that explains which visa types are being suspended from issuance to citizens from each of the designated countries. The White House has issued a Fact Sheet on the proclamation.

 

 

09/05/2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the “wind down” of DACA, affecting nearly 800,000 people by March 5, 2018

 

03/21/2017 Department of Homeland Security bans laptops and other electronic devices in carry-on bags from 10 overseas airports

  • DHS has issued a Fact Sheet and Q&A related to its announcement to immediately ban laptops and other electronic devices in carry-ons for flights from 10 specific airports overseas. The ban applies to all passengers flying from the designated airports.

 

03/17/2017 DOS Cable Implements Heightened Screening and Vetting of Visa Applications

  • A March 17, 2017 Department of State cable [17 State 25814] directs U.S. consulates on implementing Section 2 of a November 6, 2017 Presidential Memorandum, which provides: "The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, as permitted by law, implement protocols and procedures as soon as practicable that in their judgment will enhance the screening and vetting of applications for visas and all other immigration benefits, so as to increase the safety and security of the American people." Resources on the cable are available on the NAFSA website.

 

03/16/2017 Federal Court issues TRO stopping enforcement of March 6 Executive Order on Immigration

 

03/06/2017 Administration issues Presidential Memorandum on Heightened Screening and Vetting

  • On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on heightened screening and vetting of applications for Visas and other immigration benefits. PDF version of the Memo is available and resources can be found on the NAFSA website.

 

03/06/2017 Administration issues new Executive Order on immigration

  • On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a new Executive Order on immigration. PDF versions of the Executive Order and accompanying Fact Sheet are available. Wellesley will continue to monitor the situation and update our webpage.

 

02/10/2017 Federal Court temporarily prohibits enforcement of White House Executive Order

  • On Thursday, February 9, 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government's request for an emergency stay on the District Court's temporary restraining order. The TRO prevents the enforcement of certain sections of the January 27 Executive Order, including the provision that prevented individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S., and the provision suspending the admission of refugees. The government could seek a new review by the Circuit Court, or could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because the situation is fluid, it is still advisable for individuals from the seven countries to not travel outside the U.S. Wellesley has posted FAQs discussing the Executive Order on our website.

 

01/31/2017 White House issues Executive Order on immigration

  • On January 27, 2017 the White House issued an Executive Order that, among other things, suspended admission to the U.S. for individuals from certain countries for a period of 90 days. Wellesley has posted FAQs to help understand the Order and its impact.

 

01/03/2017 USCIS publishes new versions of Forms, including Form I-765 and Form I-539 – prior versions only accepted until February 21, 2017.

  • See the Department of Homeland Security website.
  • On December 23, 2016 USCIS published a rule in the Federal Register removing the NSEERS program.
  • NSEERS – the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.  The Department of Homeland Security stopped using the program, which required immigrants from 25 Muslim-majority, Arab and South Asian countries to register their arrival to and departure from the U.S., in 2011. The U.S. Government Publishing Office has more information.

 

11/20/2017 Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announces her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti.

Executive Orders

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March 6, 2017 Presidential Memorandum

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Attorney General with the subject line: Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People. The memorandum was published in the Federal Register on April 3, 2017, at 81 FR 16279. NAFSA, the Association of International Educators has a list of resources related to the March 6 Memo and the related March 17, 2017 Cable, implementing the Memo.

The premise of the memorandum is that "immediate implementation of additional heightened screening and vetting protocols and procedures" is needed while the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, and the Director of National Intelligence conduct the review called for by Section 2(a) of Executive Order 13780, i.e, the review to "identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat."

Sections 2 and 3 of the March 6 memorandum task the agencies with implementing such heightened screening, vetting, and enforcement "as permitted by law" and "as soon as practicable."

Section 2 directs the agencies to implement protocols and procedures "that in their judgment will enhance the screening and vetting of applications for visas and all other immigration benefits," focusing on:
"(a) preventing the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who may aid, support, or commit violent, criminal, or terrorist acts; and
(b) ensuring the proper collection of all information necessary to rigorously evaluate all grounds of inadmissibility or deportability, or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits."

Section 3 of the memorandum directs the agencies:

  • "to rigorously enforce all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission."
  • "to issue new rules, regulations, or guidance (collectively, rules), as appropriate, to enforce laws relating to such grounds of inadmissibility and subsequent compliance."
  • "To the extent that the Secretary of Homeland Security issues such new rules, the heads of all other relevant executive departments and agencies shall, as necessary and appropriate, issue new rules that conform to them. Such new rules shall supersede any previous rules to the extent of any conflict."
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Configure March 6, 2017 Executive Order

On March 6, 2017 the White House issued a new Executive Order on immigration, "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States." You can read the Executive Order and Fact Sheet.

The Order was set to go into effect on March 16, 2017, but on March 15 the U.S. District Court in the State of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the federal government from enforcing the Executive Order nationwide. On March 16, 2017 the U.S. District Court in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the March 6 Order nationwide.

The March 6 Executive Order rescinds the January 27, 2017 Executive Order. Among its provisions, the new Order:

  • Imposes a new 90-day bar on admission of individuals from six countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen;
  • Removes Iraq from the list of designated countries;
  • Exempts U.S. permanent residents, dual citizens with citizenship in a designated country and a third country, and individuals with a valid U.S. visa for entry to the U.S.;
  • Imposes a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, but removes the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria;
  • Calls for expedited completion of a biometric entry-exit tracking system
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January 27, 2017 Executive Order

The January 27, 2017 Order has been held up in the courts, and has not been enforced. The March 6 Order expressly rescinds the January 27 Order.

Among its provisions, the Executive Order suspended entry to the United States "of immigrants and nonimmigrants" from seven countries for a period of 90 days from the date the Order was signed. The seven countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Although the Order covered U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders), following significant public protest and a lawsuit by the ACLU, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly released a statement invoking an exception to the entry ban for U.S. lawful permanent residents on a case-by-case basis. A January 29, 2017 DHS Fact Sheet includes the language of the statement.