Last updated: Nov. 8, 2017

This page is designed to provide the Virginia Tech community with the latest information and guidance regarding the impact of the recent executive orders on US immigration.  Virginia Tech will continue to monitor the impact of the immigration-related executive orders on the Virginia Tech community and will update this page regularly as more information becomes available.

Limited Visa Services Have Been Re-Opened in Turkey

The US Embassy in Turkey has announced that it believes the security situation in Turkey has improved to the point where it can resume limited visa services. Details can be found here.

United States and Turkey Stop Processing of Nonimmigrant Visa Processing

The United States Department of State (DOS) announced on Sunday, October 8, 2017, that it was suspending nonimmigrant visa services at embassies and consulates in Turkey. The suspension is in response to the arrest of a Turkish staff member of the US diplomatic mission. DOS feels the suspension will minimize the number of visitors to the embassy and consulates in Turkey while DOS assesses the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of the US diplomatic facilities and personnel.

In response, the government of Turkey announced a suspension of visa services to US citizens, also effective October 8, 2017. According to the Turkish government’s announcement, this includes the issuance of physical “sticker” visas at border posts, and the online Turkish electronic visa (e-visa).  U.S. citizens planning travel to Turkey, and who have questions regarding this regulation should contact the closest Embassy or Consulate of Turkey, or the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

For further detailed information regarding Turkey and travel:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Turkey’s Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, Kavaklidere, 06100 Ankara, at +90-312-455-5555, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +90-312-455-5555 or +90-212-335-9000 (U.S. Consulate General Istanbul).
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, located at Poligon Mahallesi, Sarıyer Caddesi, No: 75, 34460, Istinye, Sariyer, at +90-212-335-9000.
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate in Adana, located at 212 Girne Bulvari, Guzelevler Mahallesi, Yuregir, Adana at +90-322-455-4100.
  • Contact the Consular Agency in Izmir at Izmir@state.gov.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).   

Presidential Proclamation Restricting Travel to the US for Citizens of Certain Countries

On September 24, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” The Proclamation imposes restrictions on travel to the US for citizens of the following countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. It is important to note that the ban does NOT require individuals from these countries who are already in the United States to depart (they can remain in their existing status); and does NOT revoke visas or travel documents that have already been issued. This memo will summarize the Proclamation.

BACKGROUND

The September 24 Proclamation follows earlier Executive Orders which required the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of State (“DOS”) to review the procedures for admitting foreign nationals into the US. As a result of that review, the DOS and DHS concluded that certain countries have inadequate procedures for providing information to the US regarding:

  1. whether persons applying for entry to the US are who they say they are (“identity management information”);
  2. whether persons applying for entry to the US pose a national security or public safety risk (“national security and public safety information”)
  3. whether the country itself is a security or safety risk because it is a haven for potential terrorists, is not part of the Visa Waiver program, or because it fails to receive its nationals who have been ordered removed from the US (“national security or public safety risk assessment”)

SUMMARY OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Depending on the level of “inadequacies” identified by the DHS and DOS, nationals of eight countries now have differing levels of “travel bans” imposed on them. The following is a chart from the US Department of State of the affected countries, and the types of entries that are restricted:

Country Nonimmigrant Visas Immigrant and Diversity Visas
Chad No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas*
Iran No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Libya No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
North Korea No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Syria No nonimmigrant visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
Venezuela No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies: Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members. 
No restrictions
Yemen No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
Somalia No nonimmigrant visas
No immigrant or diversity visas


*The Proclamation does not specifically reference “Diversity Visas”, although the chart published by the DOS includes Diversity Visas with Immigrant visas. The Diversity Visa program allows issuance of a limited number of permanent resident green cards to individuals who are citizens of countries with historically low levels of immigration into the United States. 

**The published DOS chart lists Somalia as a country for which no nonimmigrant visas will be issued. However, the Proclamation makes no such broad statement. The Proclamation states that the DOS will engage in additional scrutiny for nonimmigrant applications from Somalia to ensure that the applicant has no connection to a terrorist organization or otherwise poses a threat.

(Note:  Sudan, which was previously on the travel ban list, has been removed.  In comparison to the list of countries from the prior Executive Orders, the new list adds two non-Muslim majority countries:  North Korea, which has minimal entries to the US, and Venezuela, but only a limited number of certain governmental officials).

IMPLEMENTATION

The travel ban is implemented in two different phases:

Phase 1: From 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 24, 2017 until 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

Nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.  Nationals of these five countries cannot travel to the US, except for:

  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “close family” member in the US. “Close family” is defined as a parent, including parent-in-law, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, and first-cousin. For all relationships, half or step status is included (e.g., “half-brother” or “step-sister”). “Close family” does not include any other “extended” family members.
  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “U.S. entity.” The relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading the restrictions of the Proclamation. 
  • Those individuals who meet the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below.

Phase 2: Beginning 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

Nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia: Designated nationals of these countries cannot travel to the US in any of the immigration statuses listed in the chart above as being prohibited for the particular country, unless (1) they meet one of the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below, or (2) they qualify for a “waiver” allowing travel. The “bona fide” relationship exception will no longer apply, whether it is a bona fide family relationship or a bona fide US entity relationship.

Existing visas are not revoked. Individuals who have valid visas on the effective date of the applicable “Phase” can use the visa to travel. 

The DOS has stated that it will not cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments. 

All visa applicants from these countries, and individuals who are traveling to the US using existing visas, can expect enhanced questioning by consular officers and by Customs & Border Protection officers at ports of entry. 

EXCEPTIONS TO THE TRAVEL RESTRICITONS

The following individuals are not subject to the travel ban and can continue to travel to the US:

  • Foreign national in the US on the effective date of the Presidential Proclamation (regardless of immigration status on that date);
  • Foreign national with a valid visa as of the applicable effective date of the Presidential Proclamation for that individual;
  • Lawful permanent residents (i.e. “green card” holders) of the US.  (This appears to directly contradict language in the Proclamation that “immigrants” are subject to the ban);
  • Foreign national admitted or paroled into the US on or after the applicable effective date;
  • Foreign national who has a document other than a visa – such as a transportation letter or advance parole document – valid on the effective date;
  • Any dual national of one of the listed countries, who is also a national or citizen of a different country not listed, provided the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-listed country;
  • Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, NATO visa, C-2 via for travel to the UN, or G-2, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa;
  • Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum to the US; refugees who have already been admitted to the US; or individuals who have been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.


WAIVERS

Immigration officers (whether consular officer or Customs & Border Protection) may, in their discretion, grant waivers based on the following criteria:

  • Denying entry would cause undue hardship;
  • Entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the US; and
  • Entry would be in the national interest.

The Proclamation provides the following examples of circumstances that may warrant a waiver, permitting travel to the US:

  • The foreign national has been previously admitted to the US for a continuous period of work, study or other long-term activity and is seeking to reenter the US to resume that activity and denying reentry would impair that activity;
  • The foreign national has previously established significant contacts within the US but is outside the US on the effective date for work, study or other lawful activity;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g. spouse, child or parent) who is a US citizen, green card holder or alien on a nonimmigrant visa and denial would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
  • The foreign national is an infant, young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstance of the case;
  • The foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the US government;
  • The foreign national is traveling for purposed related to certain international organizations;
  • The foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident;
  • The foreign national is traveling as a US government-sponsored exchange visitor; or
  • The foreign national is traveling to the US at the request of a US government department or agency for law enforcement, foreign policy or national security reasons.

These are not guaranteed “waiver” fact patterns.  They are merely examples of fact patterns that “may” warrant a waiver.

Adjudication of Petitions by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

The Proclamation does not address whether petitions or applications filed with the USCIS by or on behalf of citizens of the listed countries will continue to be processed. 

Additional Points

  • The Proclamation states that nationals of Iraq who seek entry will be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the U.S. 
  • Every 180 days the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with other government officials, will submit a report with recommendations to the President, and this list could be “continued, modified, terminated, or supplemented”, including the possibility of adding other countries as deemed necessary
  • The Proclamation does not address the refugee travel/entry ban, which is set to expire on October 24th.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Joins Coalition Defending Dreamers

Attorney General Mark Herring joined 15 other state attorneys general to defend DREAMers from President Trump's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The withdrawal will be implemented over the course of the next six months. Details on the rescission may be found in a memorandum issued by Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS has also issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that provides detail on the rescission of DACA.

The memorandum and FAQ outline the following details:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will accept no further “new” DACA applications after Tuesday, September 5, 2017 —however they will process “new” applications received up to that date. These applications will be processed according to prior policy. A “New” application is one where the applicant has never held DACA status, or an application where the applicant did not apply to renew DACA within one year of the expiration of their prior grant of DACA.
  • Renewal applications for DACA will be accepted until October 5, 2017 and will be processed according to the prior existing policy. If approved, the DACA extension will be for the full two (2) year period, per existing policy. These applications will only be accepted for applicants whose DACA expires before March 5, 2018 (6 months from application date).
  • Current DACA grants will not be rescinded and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) already issued will not be revoked—they remain valid for the period of time reflected on the face of the EAD.
  • No new advance parole documents will be approved under DACA. Currently pending applications for advance parole will be closed and refunds issued.  No new applications will be accepted. Advance Parole documents already approved will “generally” remain valid; however the memo specifically states admission will still be subject to CBP discretion at the border and USCIS retains authority to revoke or terminate advance parole at any time.  Travel on Advance Parole based on DACA is quite risky in this environment.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) states they will not target DACA holders specifically for removal (i.e. will not use registration information to specifically target DACA holders); however, DACA holders will be treated like anyone else in the country illegally. ICE stated they will not “proactively” seek out DACA holders/applicants using information in the databases for DACA application purposes. However, that information could be obtained for national security and/or criminal investigations.
  • Neither DHS nor ICE would provide information on what might happen if Congress does not enact one (of the several versions) of the DREAM Act currently being proposed in Congress.

There are many resources at Virginia Tech available to members of the community affected by this decision. These resources include:

The Office of the Dean of Students: https://www.dos.vt.edu/

The Cook Counseling Center: https://www.ucc.vt.edu/

Student Legal Services: http://www.legal.sga.vt.edu/

Cranwell International Center: http://www.international.vt.edu/

Graduate School Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/diversity.html

International Support Services: http://www.iss.vt.edu

Presidential Proclamation Restricting Travel to the US for Citizens of Certain Countries

On September 24, 2017, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation titled “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats.” The Proclamation imposes restrictions on travel to the US for citizens of the following countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. It is important to note that the ban does NOT require individuals from these countries who are already in the United States to depart (they can remain in their existing status); and does NOT revoke visas or travel documents that have already been issued. This memo will summarize the Proclamation.

BACKGROUND

The September 24 Proclamation follows earlier Executive Orders which required the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of State (“DOS”) to review the procedures for admitting foreign nationals into the US. As a result of that review, the DOS and DHS concluded that certain countries have inadequate procedures for providing information to the US regarding:

  1. whether persons applying for entry to the US are who they say they are (“identity management information”);
  2. whether persons applying for entry to the US pose a national security or public safety risk (“national security and public safety information”)
  3. whether the country itself is a security or safety risk because it is a haven for potential terrorists, is not part of the Visa Waiver program, or because it fails to receive its nationals who have been ordered removed from the US (“national security or public safety risk assessment”)

SUMMARY OF TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Depending on the level of “inadequacies” identified by the DHS and DOS, nationals of eight countries now have differing levels of “travel bans” imposed on them. The following is a chart from the US Department of State of the affected countries, and the types of entries that are restricted:

Country Nonimmigrant Visas Immigrant and Diversity Visas
Chad No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas No immigrant or diversity visas*
Iran No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Libya No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
North Korea No nonimmigrant visas No immigrant or diversity visas
Syria No nonimmigrant visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
Venezuela No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies: Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members. 
No restrictions
Yemen No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas
No immigrant or diversity visas
Somalia No nonimmigrant visas
No immigrant or diversity visas

Country

Nonimmigrant Visas

Immigrant and Diversity Visas

Chad

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas*

Iran

No nonimmigrant visas except F, M, and J student visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

Libya

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

North Korea

No nonimmigrant visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

Syria

No nonimmigrant visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

Venezuela

No B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2 visas of any kind for officials of the following government agencies: Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Immigration; the Corps of Scientific Investigations, Judicial and Criminal; the Bolivarian Intelligence Service; and the People’s Power Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their immediate family members. 

No restrictions

Yemen

No B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 visas

No immigrant or diversity visas

Somalia

No nonimmigrant visas**

No immigrant or diversity visas

 

*The Proclamation does not specifically reference “Diversity Visas”, although the chart published by the DOS includes Diversity Visas with Immigrant visas. The Diversity Visa program allows issuance of a limited number of permanent resident green cards to individuals who are citizens of countries with historically low levels of immigration into the United States. 

**The published DOS chart lists Somalia as a country for which no nonimmigrant visas will be issued. However, the Proclamation makes no such broad statement. The Proclamation states that the DOS will engage in additional scrutiny for nonimmigrant applications from Somalia to ensure that the applicant has no connection to a terrorist organization or otherwise poses a threat.

(Note:  Sudan, which was previously on the travel ban list, has been removed.  In comparison to the list of countries from the prior Executive Orders, the new list adds two non-Muslim majority countries:  North Korea, which has minimal entries to the US, and Venezuela, but only a limited number of certain governmental officials).

IMPLEMENTATION

The travel ban is implemented in two different phases:

Phase 1: From 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 24, 2017 until 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

Nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.  Nationals of these five countries cannot travel to the US, except for:

  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “close family” member in the US. “Close family” is defined as a parent, including parent-in-law, spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, and first-cousin. For all relationships, half or step status is included (e.g., “half-brother” or “step-sister”). “Close family” does not include any other “extended” family members.
  • Those individuals who have a bona fide relationship with a “U.S. entity.” The relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading the restrictions of the Proclamation. 
  • Those individuals who meet the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below.

Phase 2: Beginning 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 18, 2017:

Nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia: Designated nationals of these countries cannot travel to the US in any of the immigration statuses listed in the chart above as being prohibited for the particular country, unless (1) they meet one of the “Exceptions to the Travel Restrictions” listed below, or (2) they qualify for a “waiver” allowing travel. The “bona fide” relationship exception will no longer apply, whether it is a bona fide family relationship or a bona fide US entity relationship.

Existing visas are not revoked. Individuals who have valid visas on the effective date of the applicable “Phase” can use the visa to travel. 

The DOS has stated that it will not cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments. 

All visa applicants from these countries, and individuals who are traveling to the US using existing visas, can expect enhanced questioning by consular officers and by Customs & Border Protection officers at ports of entry. 

EXCEPTIONS TO THE TRAVEL RESTRICITONS

The following individuals are not subject to the travel ban and can continue to travel to the US:

  • Foreign national in the US on the effective date of the Presidential Proclamation (regardless of immigration status on that date);
  • Foreign national with a valid visa as of the applicable effective date of the Presidential Proclamation for that individual;
  • Lawful permanent residents (i.e. “green card” holders) of the US.  (This appears to directly contradict language in the Proclamation that “immigrants” are subject to the ban);
  • Foreign national admitted or paroled into the US on or after the applicable effective date;
  • Foreign national who has a document other than a visa – such as a transportation letter or advance parole document – valid on the effective date;
  • Any dual national of one of the listed countries, who is also a national or citizen of a different country not listed, provided the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-listed country;
  • Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, NATO visa, C-2 via for travel to the UN, or G-2, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa;
  • Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum to the US; refugees who have already been admitted to the US; or individuals who have been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.


WAIVERS

Immigration officers (whether consular officer or Customs & Border Protection) may, in their discretion, grant waivers based on the following criteria:

  • Denying entry would cause undue hardship;
  • Entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the US; and
  • Entry would be in the national interest.

The Proclamation provides the following examples of circumstances that may warrant a waiver, permitting travel to the US:

  • The foreign national has been previously admitted to the US for a continuous period of work, study or other long-term activity and is seeking to reenter the US to resume that activity and denying reentry would impair that activity;
  • The foreign national has previously established significant contacts within the US but is outside the US on the effective date for work, study or other lawful activity;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;
  • The foreign national seeks to enter the US to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g. spouse, child or parent) who is a US citizen, green card holder or alien on a nonimmigrant visa and denial would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
  • The foreign national is an infant, young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstance of the case;
  • The foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the US government;
  • The foreign national is traveling for purposed related to certain international organizations;
  • The foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident;
  • The foreign national is traveling as a US government-sponsored exchange visitor; or
  • The foreign national is traveling to the US at the request of a US government department or agency for law enforcement, foreign policy or national security reasons.

These are not guaranteed “waiver” fact patterns.  They are merely examples of fact patterns that “may” warrant a waiver.

Adjudication of Petitions by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

The Proclamation does not address whether petitions or applications filed with the USCIS by or on behalf of citizens of the listed countries will continue to be processed. 

Additional Points

  • The Proclamation states that nationals of Iraq who seek entry will be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the U.S. 
  • Every 180 days the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with other government officials, will submit a report with recommendations to the President, and this list could be “continued, modified, terminated, or supplemented”, including the possibility of adding other countries as deemed necessary
  • The Proclamation does not address the refugee travel/entry ban, which is set to expire on October 24th.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Joins Coalition Defending Dreamers

Attorney General Mark Herring joined 15 other state attorneys general to defend DREAMers from President Trump's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The withdrawal will be implemented over the course of the next six months. Details on the rescission may be found in a memorandum issued by Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS has also issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that provides detail on the rescission of DACA.

The memorandum and FAQ outline the following details:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will accept no further “new” DACA applications after Tuesday, September 5, 2017 —however they will process “new” applications received up to that date. These applications will be processed according to prior policy. A “New” application is one where the applicant has never held DACA status, or an application where the applicant did not apply to renew DACA within one year of the expiration of their prior grant of DACA.
  • Renewal applications for DACA will be accepted until October 5, 2017 and will be processed according to the prior existing policy. If approved, the DACA extension will be for the full two (2) year period, per existing policy. These applications will only be accepted for applicants whose DACA expires before March 5, 2018 (6 months from application date).
  • Current DACA grants will not be rescinded and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) already issued will not be revoked—they remain valid for the period of time reflected on the face of the EAD.
  • No new advance parole documents will be approved under DACA. Currently pending applications for advance parole will be closed and refunds issued.  No new applications will be accepted. Advance Parole documents already approved will “generally” remain valid; however the memo specifically states admission will still be subject to CBP discretion at the border and USCIS retains authority to revoke or terminate advance parole at any time.  Travel on Advance Parole based on DACA is quite risky in this environment.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) states they will not target DACA holders specifically for removal (i.e. will not use registration information to specifically target DACA holders); however, DACA holders will be treated like anyone else in the country illegally. ICE stated they will not “proactively” seek out DACA holders/applicants using information in the databases for DACA application purposes. However, that information could be obtained for national security and/or criminal investigations.
  • Neither DHS nor ICE would provide information on what might happen if Congress does not enact one (of the several versions) of the DREAM Act currently being proposed in Congress.

There are many resources at Virginia Tech available to members of the community affected by this decision. These resources include:

The Office of the Dean of Students: https://www.dos.vt.edu/

The Cook Counseling Center: https://www.ucc.vt.edu/

Student Legal Services: http://www.legal.sga.vt.edu/

Cranwell International Center: http://www.international.vt.edu/

Graduate School Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/diversity.html

International Support Services: http://www.iss.vt.edu

June 27, 2017 update: The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued an order granting certiorari review of the constitutionality of the Executive Order (“EO”) issued by the White House in March banning travel to the United States for citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries.  The Supreme Court will hear arguments in October, with a final decision likely by December.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court made changes to the injunctions.  The Supreme Court ruled that the injunctions were too broad, and needed to be limited.  In the decision granting certiorari, the Supreme Court said that the EO banning travel may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  Other foreign nationals from the listed countries are subject to the travel ban.

The Supreme Court went on to give examples of what qualifies as “bona fide relationships”:

“The facts of these cases illustrate the sort of relationship that qualifies. For individuals, a close familial relationship is required. A foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member, like [a] wife or [a] mother-in-law, clearly has such a relationship. As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading EO–2 [the March EO]. The students from the designated countries who have been admitted to the University of Hawaii have such a relationship with an American entity. So too would a worker who accepted an offer of employment from an American company or a lecturer invited to address an American audience.  Not so someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid §2(c): For example, a nonprofit group devoted to immigration issues may not contact foreign nationals from the designated countries, add them to client lists, and then secure their entry by claiming injury from their exclusion.”

The impact of this ruling is this:  Most people coming to Virginia Tech from one of the six affected countries should be in a bona fide relationship, and therefore may apply for US visa stamps at US consulates and embassies abroad, and may request admission at US ports of entry. However, we recommend that those coming to Virginia Tech from the six affected countries take the following additional steps to document the bona fide:

  • For International Students:  A letter from the registrar confirming that the student has been admitted to the college or university, and confirming the date that the academic program will commence.  The student should also have a valid I-20 or DS-2019, and if enrolled for the coming semester, a course listing of classes they will take.
  • For International ScholarsA letter from your Virginia Tech host, confirming your participation in the Exchange Visitor program at Virginia Tech.  Scholars in J-1 status should also have a valid DS- 2019.
  • For Faculty and Staff:  A letter from the supervisor confirming that the faculty/staff member is employed by Virginia Tech and is coming to the US to undertake (or resume) employment.  If there is an employment contract or appointment letter, the individual should carry that as well, and copies of recent paystubs (for existing employees). 
  • For Invited Lecturers or Presenters:  A letter of invitation from Virginia Tech formally inviting and outlining the terms of the presentation, lecture, performance, etc. and any remuneration that will be provided in terms of honorarium and/or reimbursement of expenses.

There is no guidance (yet) regarding what types of evidence will suffice to allow individuals impacted by the EO to travel.  The key is to document that there is a verifiable relationship between the institution and the individual.   

It is also important to note exactly who is subject to the EO.  There are many categories of individuals from the listed countries who are NOT subject to the EO at all.  Below is a summary of the travel ban:

TRAVEL BAN SUMMARY

On March 6, 2017, the White House issued a new Executive Order which imposed travel restrictions on nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries.  The Executive Order (“EO”) suspended entry into the United States for 90 days (and possibly longer) by nationals from the following six countries:

  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen  

(Iraq was on the earlier January travel ban, but was removed from the list in the March travel ban). 

The EO prohibits entry to the US of the nationals of those countries who:

(i)   are outside the United States on the effective date of this order;

(ii)   did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and

(iii)  do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the order [the original EO was effective on March 16, 2017; however the president recently issued a directive making the order effective on the date the injunction is lifted:  June 26, 2017].

Existing visas are not cancelled.  People from the listed countries with valid visas prior to the dates noted above are permitted to travel.

The EO also suspends refugee processing for 120 days, and suspends refugee travel to the U.S. for 120 days, unless travel was already scheduled by the Department of State.  The EO reduces the number of refugees the US will admit from 100,000 to 50,000. 

 

Exceptions to travel prohibition for nationals of these countries

The following individuals are not subject to the travel ban:

(i)    any lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e. a green card holder);

(ii)   any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order;

(iii)  any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;

(iv)   any dual national of one of the listed countries as long as the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-listed country;

(v)    any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or

(vi)   any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

Waiver Process

The Executive Order permits “waivers” on a case-by-case basis.  That is, if a person otherwise would be banned, the person can apply for a waiver of the ban.  The waiver process can allow the issuance of visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of the 6 countries if the foreign national demonstrates to a consular officer's satisfaction (1) that denying entry would cause undue hardship, and (2) that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and (3) the person’s entry would be in the national interest.  No details have been provided on the waiver process.

Additional Issues for Individuals with ties to the Listed 6 Countries

  • There is no indication in the memo that the CIS has suspended or will suspend adjudication of petitions or applications for immigration benefits filed by or on behalf of individuals from the listed 6 countries. DHS has specifically confirmed that US CIS will continue normal processing of Applications for Naturalization (Form N-400) and Applications to Adjust Status (Form I-485) filed by citizens of the 6 listed countries.
  • Nationals of the 6 countries who are currently in the U.S. in valid immigration status will not see their status terminated or otherwise affected, even though they may not be permitted to reenter the U.S. after foreign travel. 

Hawai'i District Court Enters Preliminary Injunction

On March 29, 2017, the U.S. District Court in Hawai'i converted its March 15, 2017, temporary restraining order (which was valid for a maximum of 14 days), into a preliminary injunction, which will continue to block enforcement of the Executive Order 13780 Section 2(c) 90-day travel bar and the Section 6 120-day refugee admissions bar, for the duration of the litigation in the Hawai'i District Court. The Government may elect to appeal this court order. 

US Department of Homeland Security Announces Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last Point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States

On March 21, 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced “enhanced security measures” affecting 10 specific airports. DHS states that these security enhancements are in response to evaluated intelligence indicating that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are pursuing innovative methods to undertake such attacks, including smuggling explosives in various consumer devices. DHS issued a Fact Sheet describing these enhancements.

The 10 affected airports are Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

The aviation security enhancements include requiring that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage at 10 airports where flights are departing for the United States.

Electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone will not be allowed to be carried onboard the aircraft in carry-on luggage or other accessible property. Electronic devices that exceed this size limit must be secured in checked luggage. Necessary medical devices will be allowed to remain in a passenger’s possession after they are screened.

The approximate size of a commonly available smartphone is considered to be a guideline for passengers. Examples of large electronic devices that will not be allowed in the cabin on affected flights include, but are not limited to:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-Readers
  • Cameras
  • Portable DVD players
  • Electronic game units larger than a smartphone
  • Travel printers/scanners

There is no impact on domestic flights in the United States or flights departing the United States. Electronic devices will continue to be allowed on all flights originating in the United States.

Temporary Restraining Order Issued Blocking Implementation of the March 6, 2017, Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

On March 15, 2017, a federal court in the State of Hawaii issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) blocking the implementation of Section 2 and Section 6 of the March 6, 2017, Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”  The Executive Order was set to take effect at 12:01 AM on March 16, 2017. Section 2 of the Executive Order was to suspend entry to the United States, for a period of 90 days, nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. Section 6 of the Executive Order was to suspend the US Refugee Assistance Program for 120 days. (See prior posts for a more complete summary of the Executive Order.)

In issuing the TRO, the court in Hawaii found that the State of Hawaii established “a strong likelihood of success” on their claims that the Executive Order violates religious freedom. The Hawaii court’s TRO will remain in place at least until an expedited hearing is scheduled to determine whether the TRO should be extended. A federal court in the State of Maryland entered a narrower TRO on March 16, 2017, blocking implementation of the portion of the Executive Order that was to suspend entry of nationals from the six affected countries to the United States for 90 days.

We will continue to monitor this fluid situation and provide updates as events warrant.

Summary and Frequently Asked Questions Regarding March 6, 2017, Executive Order Restricting Travel

On March 6, 2017, the White House issued a new Executive Order which imposed travel restrictions on nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries. The new Executive Order specifically revoked the prior Executive Order, which had been invalidated by the federal courts.  The effective date of the new Executive Order is March 16, 2017.

This posting will provide a summary of the restrictions imposed, based on guidance to date.  For those not familiar with immigration terminology, we are including a listing of common terms with relevance to the Executive Order. 

  • Immigrant – A foreign national who intends to reside permanently in the United States
  • Nonimmigrant – A foreign national who has the right to remain only temporarily in the United States for a specific purpose, and to return to an un-abandoned foreign residence abroad
  • National – A person who owes allegiance to a particular nation and who is eligible for diplomatic protection by that nation, but not necessarily having full political rights; typically denoted by eligibility to hold a country’s passport. 
  • Green Card – Form I-551 stamp or card which evidences an individual’s permanent residence in the United States.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa – Form placed in a passport by a U.S. Consulate abroad which allows the visa holder to board passage to the United States and to present him or herself for inspection by an officer of US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry into the U.S. for temporary entry to the U.S.
  • Immigrant Visa – Form placed in a passport by a U.S. Consulate abroad which allows the visa holder to present him or herself for entry to the US as a permanent resident.  A Green Card is issued after arrival. 
  • Form I-94 – Arrival/Departure Document – Document stored electronically by CBP at the port of entry authorizing an individual to enter the United States, stating the immigration status which the person is authorized to hold, and stating the date by which the individual must depart the United States.  Individuals should print this document after entry to the US.
  • Immigration Status – Status authorized by the type of visa used to enter the U.S. (i.e., H1B, F-1, etc.).  A person’s immigration status in the U.S. can exceed the validity period of the visa in his or her passport. 
  • Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) – The government agency which determines an individual’s eligibility for certain immigration benefits.
  • Customs & Border Protection (CBP) – The government agency which inspects individuals who apply at ports of entry for entry to the U.S.
  • Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) – The government agency charged with enforcing immigration law and policy within the U.S.
  • Department of State – The government agency which operates U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, and is charged with issuing visas to foreign nationals wishing to travel to the United States.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – The government agency formed after 9/11 to consolidate many functions related to national security.  CIS, CBP, and ICE are agencies within DHS. 

In general, U.S. immigration law divides all individuals seeking to enter the United States into two categories:  immigrants and nonimmigrants.  “Immigrants” are individuals who are intending to remain permanently in the United States.  “Nonimmigrants” are individuals coming for only a temporary stay.   Most international students initially enter the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status (e.g., F-1, J-1).

The new Executive Order (“EO”) suspends entry into the United States for 90 days (and possibly longer) by nationals from the following six countries:

Iran

Libya

Somalia

Sudan

Syria

Yemen  

(Iraq was removed from the list).

 

The EO prohibits entry to the US of the nationals of those countries who:

(i)   are outside the United States on the effective date of this order;

(ii)   did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and

(iii)  do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the order (March 16).

Existing visas are not cancelled, as was the case in the prior EO.  The EO takes effect on March 16, 2017.

The EO also suspends refugee processing for 120 days, and suspends refugee travel to the U.S. for 120 days, unless travel was already scheduled by the Department of State.  The EO reduces the number of refugees the US will admit from 100,000 to 50,000. 

The following individuals are not subject to the travel ban:

(i)    any lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e. a green card holder);

(ii)   any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order;

(iii)  any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document;

(iv)   any dual national of one of the listed countries as long as the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-listed country;

(v)    any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or

(vi)   any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

NOTE:  Canadian Landed Immigrants from the six listed countries are not exempted from the EO.  They can apply for visas only pursuant to the “Waiver Process” described in the next section.

The Executive Order permits “waivers” on a case-by-case basis, to allow the issuance of visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of the six countries if the foreign national demonstrates to a consular officer's satisfaction (1) that denying entry would cause undue hardship, and (2) that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and (3) the person’s entry would be in the national interest.  No details have been provided on the waiver process. Case-by-case waivers could be appropriate in circumstances such as the following:

(i)     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 effective date of this order, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity;

(ii)    the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity;

(iii)   the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations;

(iv)    the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship;

(v)     the foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;

(vi)    the foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee) and the employee can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government;

(vii)   the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq., traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA;

(viii)  the foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada; or

(ix)    the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor.

  • There is no indication in the memo that the CIS has suspended or will suspend adjudication of petitions or applications for immigration benefits filed by or on behalf of individuals from the listed six countries. DHS has specifically confirmed that US CIS will continue normal processing of Applications for Naturalization (Form N-400) and Applications to Adjust Status (Form I-485) filed by citizens of the six listed countries.
  • Nationals of the six countries who are currently in the U.S. in valid immigration status will not see their status terminated or otherwise affected, even though they may not be permitted to reenter the U.S. after foreign travel. 
  • Nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for citizens of other countries remain valid for travel to the U.S.
  • Immigration status in the U.S. for citizens of other countries is not impacted by the Executive Order.
  • Additional screening should be expected by anyone traveling to the U.S. who has visited one of the six listed countries, or who was born in one of the six countries.
  • Citizens of countries other than the listed six who are applying for visas at U.S. consulates should expect additional delays in processing, as more visa applicants will now need visa interviews.  Previously, interview waivers were available to individuals who were applying for a new visa within 24 months of the expiration of the old visa.  Under the EO, interviews are required unless the applicant applies within 12 months of expiration of the old visa.
  • 90 day ESTA Visa Waiver for eligible countries is still in effect. 
  • Although travel is not restricted for citizens of Iraq, the EO indicates that Iraqi citizens will receive more extensive screening.  Delays in visa processing and at the U.S. port of entry should be expected. 

Several groups have already said they will challenge the new EO as a violation of the Establishment Clause for targeting the restrictions to Muslim-majority countries, when there is arguably no demonstrable evidence that they pose a threat to safety or security.  The Establishment Clause prevents the U.S. government from favoring one religion over another.  As a result, the situation is fluid, and subject to change at any time.  Any individual who holds a passport from or is a national of one of the listed countries is advised not to travel outside the United States until they have consulted an immigration attorney. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Citizens of other countries are not impacted by the ban on entry, unless you are a dual citizen of one of the six listed countries, you were born in one of those countries, or you have traveled to one of those countries. 

If you are already in the United States, your current status is not affected by the Executive Order.  You can remain in the U.S. for as long as your status allows.  You should not depart the U.S. without consulting an immigration attorney or your foreign student advisor. 

If you are a dual citizen, you are permitted to travel using passports of a country OTHER than one of the list of six countries.  You should expect additional screening upon your return to the U.S.  If your nonimmigrant visa is in the passport of one of the listed countries, you should not travel outside the U.S. , unless you are prepared to apply for a visa in your other passport.

The Executive Order does not restrict travel by citizens of countries other than those on the list of six countries.  However, if you have traveled to one of the six listed countries in the past, you should expect additional screening.

You can travel if you have a valid visa.  If you need to obtain a new visa, you will need to qualify for a “waiver” on the grounds stated in the EO.  The procedure for requesting a waiver has not been released, but will likely cause delays in processing.  Approval is not guaranteed.  Applicants for waivers should plan for extended time outside the U.S. for waiver processing. 

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the U.S.

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the U.S.  You should travel only using your U.S. passport.

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter.

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the U.S.

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter.  You should expect additional screening upon reentry to the U.S.

You can travel outside the U.S. and reenter. 

Yes. The EO eliminated the ability for certain people renewing a nonimmigrant visa to skip the interview process.  In the past, some applicants for nonimmigrant visas were able to skip an in person interview at the Consulate if they were applying to extend an existing visa.  Under the EO, the circumstances under which a waiver of the interview may be granted are now more limited.  However, the State Department has confirmed that the interview waiver program still applies to applicants aged 14 and under and 79 and older.  They have also confirmed that it still applies to applicants who were issued visas that expired less than 12 months ago in the same category as they are currently seeking.  Individual consulates always reserve the ability to require an interview, even for individuals otherwise eligible for a waiver of the interview.  Travel plans should be made accordingly. 

Your employer can apply for H-1B on your behalf. 

Your employer can apply for H-1B on your behalf. 

Your employer can apply for H-1B on your behalf. 

You can apply for CPT.  This is authorized by the school.  There is no indication that the US CIS will suspend immigration benefits pursuant to this Executive Order.

You can apply for OPT.  Applications for the OPT employment authorization document (EAD) are filed with the US CIS.  There is no indication that the US CIS will suspend processing of immigration benefits pursuant to this EO. 

STEM extensions of OPT are still available and were not part of any signed Executive Orders. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will temporarily suspend the premium processing program for all H-1B petitions. What does this mean for VT hiring units and employees?

On Friday,  March 3, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective Monday, April 3, 2017, it will temporarily suspend, for up to six months, the premium processing program for all H-1B cases. Under the premium processing program, USCIS adjudicates H-1B petitions within 15 calendar days. Currently, under the normal processing queue, USCIS takes 7 – 8 months to adjudicate the H-1B case.  The relevant USCIS notice is posted here.

  • A hiring unit that wants or needs to make a premium processing H-1B request should contact ISS immediately.  ISS MUST file the case by no later than Thursday, March 30, 2017, so that USCIS receives it by Friday, March 21, 2017.  Certain steps must be taken very soon, to file by March 30, 2017.  Please email Dena Neese at ISS if you have questions.
  • Important Note: USCIS only allows H-1B filings up to six months in advance of the requested H-1B start date listed on the petition (this includes new cases, extensions, change of employer cases and amendments).  To benefit from premium processing before the program is suspended, the requested H-1B start date must be September 30, 2017, or earlier. We may not request an H-1B start date of October 1 or later and benefit from premium processing at this time. 
  • New hires who need H-1B sponsorship to work – if a VT hiring unit intends to hire an international employee in H-1B status on or before September 30, 2017, please contact ISS immediately.  This includes, but is not limited to, new tenure-track faculty with an August 10, 2017, start date. 
  • Current employees in H-1B status, whose H-1B expires soon – if a VT hiring unit has an existing H-1B employee whose H-1B expires on or before September 30, 2017, please contact ISS immediately.   Existing H-1B employees benefit from the “240 day rule” where they may work on a timely-filed H-1B receipt notice for up to 240 days after their current H-1B expires.  Given long USCIS processing times, if we get to the 240th day and the extension is not approved, then the employee will not be able to continue to work.  Also, all persons in H-1B status must have a valid, unexpired H-1B approval notice to apply for a visa stamp to return to the US after international travel.  So, even though the 240 day rule exists for continued employment eligibility, international travel is not allowed for persons relying upon the H-1B status to return, if their H-1B approval notice has expired and their extension remains pending and not yet approved.
  • Current employees in F-1 OPT status, whose OPT expires soon, or in J-1 status, whose DS-2019 expires soon - employees working in F-1 OPT status or J-1 DS-2019 status, where the hiring unit intends to change them to H-1B.  Where it makes sense, ISS can work with a hiring unit to file a change of status to H-1B with a start date on or before September 30, 2017, even if the F-1 OPT or J-1 work authorization ends at a later date.

While premium processing is suspended, we can only file under the regular program, which means 7 – 8 months to get an approval.  Please start the H-1B process for these cases early.  We can file up to 6 months before the start date. 

Please initiate the H-1B process early so that we can file six months prior to the expiration date, to best ensure continued work authorization, based upon the 240 day rule, and to try to minimize disruption to international travel. 

See the ISS website for instructions on starting the H-1B process.

I will be entering the United States from abroad.  What can I expect at the border?

Everyone seeking entry to the United States is inspected by officers of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security.  CBP officers must determine your identity, whether you are admissible to the United States, and ensure that you are not bringing contraband into the United States.

To determine if you are admissible to the United States, CBP must establish if you are a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), or if you have a valid US visa for the purpose of your visit, or are otherwise eligible for admission (e.g., have a credible fear of persecution if you were to return to your home country). The primary way that CBP make this determination is by reviewing your documents and asking you questions. Typically, CBP officers make these determinations by reviewing your passport, green card and/or visa and asking one or two brief questions. Sometimes CBP needs to ask more in-depth questions to make a determination.  In those circumstances, they will take you to an office at the port of entry to conduct a more in-depth interview. This is known as secondary inspection.

The level of questioning you can expect will depend on your personal circumstances. If you are a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you are unlikely to be referred to secondary inspection. US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who were born in or have traveled to countries listed in the January 27, 2017 Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” (i.e., Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) or other countries the US government has concerns about, may be referred to secondary inspection for additional questioning.

The vast majority of people traveling to the United States with valid US visas are also inspected and admitted without being referred to secondary inspection.  Those with valid US visas who were born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can expect to be referred to secondary inspection for questioning, as can those traveling with valid US visas who were born elsewhere but have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Regardless of where you were born or where you have traveled, CBP officers will ask valid US visa holders the purpose of your visit to the United States. This is to ensure that the purpose of your visit is consistent with your visa type.  CBP officers may ask you about your plans to work, study or conduct research in the United States. This is usually done with a few questions, but you can be referred to secondary inspection if CBP requires additional clarification.

When questioned by CBP officers, it is important to always give truthful answers. If you are confused or do not understand a question, ask the officer for clarification. If you are uncomfortable answering the questions in English, CBP will provide an interpreter for you.  Answer the question that was asked. It is not necessary to volunteer additional information beyond the scope of the question that was asked. Be polite to the CBP officer. Even though you may be tired after a long journey, and even if you feel that the CBP officer’s questions are unnecessary, being rude will not improve the situation.

CBP officers may inspect your person and possessions to establish that you are not trying to bring contraband into the United States and/or to help establish the purpose of your visit to the United States.  This might include the examination of your computer, phone, tablet or other portable electronic device. A CBP officer may also ask you to provide usernames and/or passwords to access data on your devices. If you refuse to provide usernames and/or passwords, you can anticipate that your devices will be confiscated and may not be returned for an extended period of time. Those who are not US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents might also be refused admission to the United States, upon refusal to provide usernames and/or passwords, if CBP believes data on the device is necessary to establish the purpose of your visit, or if CBP suspects that the device contains contraband.

If you are concerned about sharing data on your devices, you might consider removing certain applications or other data from them before traveling, or traveling with a device that does not contain data you are unwilling to share. The Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance has a limited number of “clean” lap tops that they will loan to those on university travel. Employees involved in restricted research will be given priority.

While you are being questioned by CBP officers, you will not be permitted to make telephone calls, send text messages or emails, or communicate with others.

I heard that the government issued new information about immigration enforcement in the United States--is this true?

Yes. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued two memos relating to immigration enforcement initiatives for the new administration. This website has the executive orders, the recently released implementation memos and fact sheets related to the orders.

The following are some items from the memos that members of the Virginia Tech community should note:

  • DHS has prioritized certain individuals subject to removal from the US.  The list includes:
    • Anyone convicted of a crime
    • Anyone charged with a crime (even if innocent)
    • Anyone who has committed an act which would constitute a criminal offense (even if not charged)
    • Anyone who engaged in fraud or misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a government agency
    • Anyone who has abused a program related to receipt of public benefits
    • Anyone who has been ordered removed from the US but has not left
    • Anyone who, in the judgment of an immigration officer, poses a risk to public safety or national security
  • In order to trigger the “removal priority” list, an individual must first be “removable” from the US.  Those who qualify as “removable” include anyone who has violated status in any way. Students who drop below required course loads, or who work without authorization, or faculty/staff who fall out of status (even inadvertently) or overstay the end date on the I-94 record render themselves removable.  In order to avoid being placed in removal proceedings, it is more important than ever to make sure that international students and faculty/staff maintain their legal status in the United States at all times. 
  • The DHS has extended “expedited removal” proceedings nationwide, rather than just within 100 miles of a border.  People who are unable to show evidence of lawful immigration status in the US can potentially face expedited removal from the US without a hearing.  This makes it imperative that individuals carry proof of legal status with them at all times.
    • F-1 students should carry passports, I-20, printed copies of I-94, and EADs (where applicable)
    • J-1 students should carry passports, DS-2019, and printed copies of I-94
    • Faculty/Staff using temporary visas should carry passports, I-797 approval notices, and printed copies of I-94
    • Permanent residents should carry their green cards
  • DHS will hire 10,000 new Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to fan out across the country to ferret out immigration violators. DHS will also hire 5,500 new Customs & Border Protection officers.  With the number of new, inexperienced hires, and the draconian tone of the enforcement memo, foreign nationals must be prepared to demonstrate their legal status at any time.
  • The United States is to begin immediate planning and construction of the wall along the Mexican border. 

If you have any questions, please contact your immigration advisor on campus. International undergraduate students should contact the Cranwell International Center, international graduate students should contact International Graduate Student Services, and international faculty and staff should contact International Support Services.

Information related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA) program

A. Virginia Tech will cooperate with government agencies enforcing the recent executive order to the extent it is required to by law. The Virginia Tech police department does not have a policy or practice of requesting the immigration status of individuals it encounters and absent a change in the law compelling it to do so will not engage in such practices.

A. Most Virginia Tech student education records are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which prohibits the release of these records without a court order. Virginia Tech will strictly adhere to the requirements of FERPA. The education records of students who are beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the education records of any undocumented students are covered by FERPA.  However, there are certain members of the Virginia Tech community on non-immigrant visas that have been sponsored by the university (e.g., F-1s and H-1Bs). By participating in these programs, Virginia Tech may be required to release some information regarding sponsored individuals if it is requested by an appropriate federal authority such as Homeland Security.

A. Those with general questions about DACA, or questions related to Virginia Tech policies regarding DACA may contact Dr. Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs (540-231-6272). Students with legal questions about DACA may contact Student Legal Services (540-231-4720) or an independent legal advisor of their choosing. Employees or other members of the community with legal questions about DACA should consult an independent legal advisor of their choosing.

What is the current state of the travel ban?

On Friday, February 3, 2017, a federal judge in Seattle, Washington, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with nationwide effect that restrained the federal government from enforcing the portions of the Executive Order related to the travel ban and refugee programs. The Trump Administration appealed the TRO to the Ninth Court of Appeals. On Thursday, February 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump Administration's emergency motion for a stay on the District Court's TRO preventing the government from enforcing the Executive Order's 90-day travel ban.

January 27, 2017 Executive Order - Summary

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

  1. The order suspends the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits including “entry into the United States” for all individuals from seven designated countries:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for at least 90 days.
    1. Individuals who hold passports from the designated countries are considered “from” the designated country.  This includes individuals who hold dual citizenship, i.e., those who hold passports from a designated country and from a non-designated country.  The suspension impacts individuals who are nonimmigrant visa holders, refugees, derivative asylees, Special Immigrant Visa holders, etc.
    2. The order does not apply to persons from the seven designated countries who are diplomats, and on NATO visas, C-2s (United Nationals related visas), and G visas (international organization officials and employees and their immediate family members)
    3. On Jan. 29, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement confirming that it is in the national interest to allow US permanent residents (green card holders) from the seven affected countries to enter the United States.  The statement goes on to note that “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”  It is likely that US permanent residents from the affected countries will be required to go through secondary inspection at the US port of entry to ensure that they do not pose a risk.
    4. The order does not apply to people who have merely traveled to the seven designated countries
  2. The order suspends (with some exceptions) the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program as a whole for 120 days, and halts Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely.
  3. The order suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program (VIWP).  Effective immediately, ALL nonimmigrant visa applicants (regardless of country of birth or citizenship) must attend an interview unless an interview is not required by statute.  Previously, the VIWP allowed consular officers to waive the interview requirement for applicants seeking to renew nonimmigrant visas within 12 months of expiration of the initial visa in the same classification.
    1. The suspension of the VIWP will likely cause delays in visa issuance at many US consulates abroad, particularly those in countries that already process a high volume of visa applications.  
  1. American Immigration Lawyers Association
  2. Virginia Lawyer Referral Service
  3. Students in the Northern Virginia area may contact a network of immigration attorneys who are available to answer questions (at no charge) at: legalquestion@dullesjustice.org

Citizens of other countries are not impacted by the ban on entry, unless you are a dual citizen of one of the seven listed countries, you were born in one of those countries, or you have traveled to one of those countries.

If you are already in the United States, your current status is not affected by the Executive Order.  You can remain in the US for as long as your status allows.  Please note that the Department of State has released a cable that purports to cancel existing visas in passports from the seven named countries, so you should not travel expecting to use the visa to return.  You should not depart the US without consulting an immigration attorney or your foreign student advisor.

The administration has stated that dual citizens are permitted to travel using passports of a country OTHER than one of the list of seven countries.  You should expect additional screening upon your return to the US.  If your nonimmigrant visa is in the passport of one of the listed countries, you should not travel outside the US.

The Executive Order does not restrict travel by citizens of countries other than those on the list of seven countries.  However, if you have traveled to one of the seven listed countries in the past, you should expect additional screening.

You can travel outside the US and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the US.

You can travel outside the US and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the US.

You can travel outside the US and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the US.  You should travel only using your US passport.

You can travel outside the US and reenter.

You can travel outside the US and reenter, but you should expect additional screening upon reentry to the US.

You can travel outside the US and reenter.  You should expect additional screening upon reentry to the US.

You can travel outside the US and reenter.

Yes.  The executive order eliminated the ability for certain people renewing a nonimmigrant visa to skip the interview process.  In the past, some applicants for nonimmigrant visas were able to skip an in-person interview at the Consulate if they were applying to extend an existing visa.  Under the Executive Order, the circumstances under which a waiver of the interview may be granted are now more limited.  However, the State Department has confirmed that the interview waiver program still applies to applicants aged 14 and under and 79 and older.  They have also confirmed that it still applies to applicants who were issued visas that expired less than 12 months ago in the same category as they are currently seeking.  Individual consulates always reserve the ability to require an interview, even for individuals otherwise eligible for a waiver of the interview.  Travel plans should be made accordingly.

Your employer can apply for H1B on your behalf.  However, there have been reports that the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (US CIS) has suspended adjudication of petitions for immigration benefits filed nationals or citizens of the seven listed countries.  Accordingly, it is possible that processing of the petition could be delayed.  We will circulate more information as it becomes available.

Your employer can apply for H1B on your behalf. However, there have been reports that the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (US CIS) has suspended adjudication of petitions for immigration benefits filed nationals or citizens of the seven listed countries.  Accordingly, it is possible that processing of the petition could be delayed.  We will circulate more information as it becomes available.

Your employer can apply for H1B on your behalf.

You can apply for CPT.  This is authorized by the school.  We are not aware of reports of CPT being impacted. Graduate students should contact International Graduate Student Services for assistance; undergraduate students should contact the Cranwell International Center.

You can apply for OPT.  Applications for the OPT employment authorization document (EAD) are filed with the US CIS.  There have been reports that the US CIS has suspended adjudication of applications for immigration benefits filed by nationals or citizens of the 7 listed countries.  Accordingly, it is possible that processing of the application could be delayed.  We will circulate more information as it becomes available. Graduate students should contact International Graduate Student Services for assistance; undergraduate students should contact the Cranwell International Center.

STEM extensions of OPT are still available and were not part of any signed Executive Orders.  If you do not have any ties to the seven listed countries, your STEM OPT extension should continue to be processed as they have been before the order.  If you are from one of the listed countries, the adjudication of your application for the STEM extension could be delayed, as explained above.

The information contained on this page is intended as general information and should not be considered legal advice. Individuals should consider consulting the legal advisor of their choosing for an assessment of their individual situation.

Virginia Tech Resources

  • Students who may be struggling with the impact of the executive orders may contact the Cook Counseling Center
  • Benefitted employees who may be struggling with the impact of the executive orders may wish to make use of the Employee Assistance Program
  •  Non-benefitted employees who may be struggling with the impact of the executive orders may contact HokieWellness for available resources.