New Student Visa Policy in Court Dispute

Hello, This is Anna from IMS. I am writings in regards to an update on an ongoing court case regarding a new policy on U.S. student visas.

 

In August of 2018, new Trump administration issued new  regulations regarding the status of foreign students and their ability to maintain lawful presence in the United States. The US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the policy memorandum (seen here) that outlines the new regulations, which, among other things, reinterprets the visa period of lawful presence.

This means the new rules could allow for the deportation and penalization of students who overstayed their visa for 180 days, by changing the way in which the period was calculated. 180 is the initial grace period allowed after the expiration of an F, J, or M visa before it becomes considered overstaying.

Before August 2018, counting the days of unlawful presence began after a formal finding that the individual was out of status. Under the new policy, however, those on  F, M or J status would commence accruing unlawful presence from the moment a violation of status occurred. This means that USCIS will start “backdating unlawful presence to begin the date on which the underlying facts that gave rise to the status violation occurred”. (quote from injunction notice)

Almost immediately, in October 2018 a group of 65 colleges and universities sued the administration over the unfair policy, with the main point being that the new policy is intentionally targeting the over 1 million F, J and M visa holders currently in the United States. By recalculating lawful presence, this could cause many international student to “overstay” status, which is a violation of visa conditions and can result in a 3 or even 10 year ban from the United States.

Recently, on May 3, 2019,  Federal District Court in North Carolina granted a preliminary injunction preventing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from enforcing the policy, which mean these new regulations will not go into effect until the case is resolved. The judgement for Guilford College et al. v. Mcaleenan et al., the name of the case, was issued by the Honorable Loretta C. Biggs. (see more here)

There are a large number of people affected by the potential ramifications of this new policy; however, some have noted that the success of a nationwide injuction provides hope to the many international students and visiting scholars already present in the United States.

This policy comes as a surprise to many, as international students “contributed nearly $37 billion to the U.S. economy and created or supported more than 450,000 jobs” in the 2016-2017 period (source). This new policy comes as one of many new attempts to impose stricter regulations on visas to the United States, but the lawsuit against it demonstrates that it does have the merits to possibly overturn it. In the meantime, some have advised current visa holders to remain vigilant until the decision arrives in the coming months.

For more information:

English: USCIS Website 

English: Law firm article

日本語: US Visa Station

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