Government Announcements Impacting Immigration

F-1 Students and ICE/SEVP Guidelines for Fall 2020

We expect that further clarification and perhaps even revisions will be made in the coming days as a result of the lawsuit brought by Harvard and MIT. This is what we do know at this time:

  • UNH plans to offer a blend of online and hybrid courses (these courses have a face-to-face component) in the Fall.
  • F-1 Students Physically in the United States:
    • Must enroll full-time (unless approved for a Reduced Course Load by OISS)
    • At least one of your courses must have a face-to-face component
    • Note: The guidance only states that students "will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online." The number of online courses allowed is not specified. We strongly recommend that you enroll in as many hybrid or face-to-face courses as feasible.
    • The guidance also states that if the university switches to all online courses mid-semester, "students must leave the country to take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status, such as transfer to a school with in-person instruction." This provision is concerning because while UNH intends to maximize your face-to-face classroom experience, a shift to an online format may be necessary to protect the health and safety of the community. We understand the challenges posed by this provision for which we are seeking clarification.
  • F-1 Students Planning to Come or Return to Campus from Outside the United States:
    • You must request an updated I-20 from OISS that will include a statement that UNH is not operating fully online in the Fall of 2020. Do not use any I-20 issued prior to July 6, 2020, as you may experience difficulties entering the US. A new e-Form to request the revised I-20 will be available shortly. Please check your email regularly for updates.
    • UNH Manchester and UNH Law: information on a revised I-20 will be provided shortly, the eForm does not apply to you.
  • Continuing F-1 Students Currently Outside or Planning to be Outside the United States:
    • F-1 status is not required while you are outside the U.S. and taking your courses online
    • You may enroll in online classes if you wish to do so and if it is practical in your situation
    • Under the most recent guidance, you will need to apply for Authorized Early Withdrawal (AEW) from UNH. To apply, please contact UNH.withdrawals@unh.edu. If you decide to withdraw or take a leave of absence from UNH, OISS will terminate your I-20, but we may be able to request SEVP to reactivate your record if you return to the US within 5 months (we do not know if this rule will be revised in future guidance)
  • ESL Students are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.

UNH is committed to supporting its international students and steps are being taken to ensure that you can progress with your studies. While we do not have all the answers, we promise to keep you informed as updates become available. The Global Education Center staff, Faculty, Senior Administration and others in the UNH community care deeply about you, your education and well-being. Please know that we are available should you wish to contact us: oiss.advisor@unh.edu

ICE/SEVP Message about Fall 2020

Temporary procedural adaptations related to online courses permitted by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) during the height of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19 )crisis will be modified for the fall 2020 semester. There will still be accommodations to provide flexibility to schools and nonimmigrant students, but as many institutions across the country reopen, there is a concordant need to resume the carefully balanced protections implemented by federal regulations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities described in the below Broadcast Message in the near future as a Temporary Final Rule in the Federal Register. This message is intended to provide additional time to facilitate the implementation of these procedures.

Due to COVID-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding the online study policy for the spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted F and M students to take more online courses than normally allowed for purposes of maintaining a full course of study to maintain their F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.

For the Fall 2020 semester, SEVP is modifying these temporary exemptions. In summary, temporary exemptions for the Fall 2020 semester provide that:

1) Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online courseload and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester, nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.

2) Students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G)).

3) Students attending schools adopting a hybrid modelthat is, a mixture of online and in person classeswill be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and8 CFR 214.2(m)(9)(v))).

For all students attending schools in the United States this Fall 2020, designated school officials (DSOs) must issue new Forms I-20 to each student certifying that the school is not operating entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. DSOs must indicate this information in the Form I-20 Remarks field in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Schools must update and reissue all Forms I-20 to reflect these changes in program enrollment and student information within 21 business days of publication of this Broadcast Message (by August 4, 2020). When issuing new Forms I-20, please prioritize students who require new visas and are outside of the country.

For the fall 2020 semester, continuing F and M students who are already in the United States may remain in Active status in SEVIS if they make normal progress in a program of study, or are engaged in approved practical training, either as part of a program of study or following completion of a program of study. If a school changes its operational stance mid-semester, and as a result a nonimmigrant student switches to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load, schools are reminded that nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If nonimmigrant students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as transfer to a school with in-person instruction.

For the fall 2020 semester, continuing F and M students outside of the United States, whose schools of enrollment are only offering online classes, may remain in Active status in SEVIS if they are taking online courses and are able to meet the normal full course of study requirements or the requirements for a reduced course of study. Only students enrolled at a school that is only offering online coursework can engage in remote learning from their home country. In this case, DSOs should annotate the students record to make it clear that the student is outside the US but taking full time online courses, as that is the only choice offered by the school.

1) Schools that offer entirely online classes or programs or will not reopen for the fall 2020 semester must complete an operational change plan and submit it to SEVP@ice.dhs.gov no later than Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The subject line must read: “Fall 2020 (Fully Online/Will not Reopen)School Name and School Code.

2) Certified schools that will not be entirely online but will reopen in the fall and that will use any of the following educational formats, must update their operational plans by August 1, 2020 and include whether they will be:

  • Solely in-person classes, or
  • Delayed or shortened sessions, or
  • A hybrid plan of in-person and remote classes.

These plans shall also be submitted to SEVP@ice.dhs.gov and the subject line must read: “Fall 2020 (in person/hybrid/modified session)School Name and School Code."

3) Schools should update their operational plans if circumstances regarding their operational posture change within 10 calendar days.

SEVP will continue to develop and provide resources to stakeholders on ICE.gov, including answers to frequently asked questions, to clarify and expand upon information in this Broadcast Message.

This Broadcast Message is not a substitute for applicable legal requirements, nor is it itself a rule or a final action by SEVP. It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any administrative, civil or criminal matter.

https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf

Presidential Proclamation: Chinese students and researchers

On Friday, May 29, 2020, the White House issued a proclamation suspending the entry of certain graduate students and researchers from China: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-nonimmigrants-certain-students-researchers-peoples-republic-china/ in response to concerns that they are coming to the U.S. to acquire “sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual property” to advance the PRC’s military capabilities.

This proclamation goes into effect today at noon and will remain in effect until terminated by the President. No implementation guidelines have been published - we will share those with you as soon as they become available.

This is what we know at this time:

Chinese nationals seeking entry to the U.S. in F or J visas for graduate study or to conduct research who currently or in the past have ties to entities in China that implement or support the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy”, or “actions to acquire…critical and emerging technologies” to benefit the PRC’s military capabilities.

Undergraduate students are not affected by this this proclamation.

The executive order also does not apply to:

  • Individuals "studying or conducting research in a field involving information that would not contribute to the PRC’s military?civil fusion strategy, as determined by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the appropriate executive departments and agencies (agencies)"
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents
  • Spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents
  • Members of the United States Armed Forces and their spouse and children
  • Individuals "whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who would otherwise be allowed entry into the United States pursuant to United States obligations under applicable international agreements"
  • Individuals "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"
  • Individuals "whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees."

This is a possibility. Section 6 of the proclamation indicates that the Secretary of State “shall consider whether nationals of the PRC currently in the United States who meet the criteria previously described should have their visas revoked.”

This is unclear but since the order is intended to restrict entry to the U.S., it is likely that the determination will be made at the time of the visa application and at the U.S. ports of entry.

We do not know how many students and scholars at UNH will be affected and we realize this Executive Order will have serious and life-changing ramifications. There are many advocacy groups challenging this order. OISS will be following developments closely and will provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to oiss.advisor@unh.edu if you have any questions or concerns.

During these challenging times, it is important to support all members of our international community. Please keep the Chinese community in mind as they learn of this new proclamation.

Executive Orders

The President of the United States has signed several Executive Orders on immigration intended to keep the country safe from potential terrorist threats, protect U.S. workers, and stop illegal immigration.  It is important for you to know that some of the provisions of the Executive Orders could affect you directly or indirectly.

Please note that the implementation of these orders is still evolving and likely to change.  Updates will be posted as information from reliable sources is received.

UNH response to the Executive Orders: President Mark Huddleston's Letter to the UNH Community - January 29, 2017

President Huddleston Addresses New Immigration Ban - March 8, 2017

Expect regulations to be more strictly enforced.  Take a moment to review your immigration documents to ensure they are valid and remember to renew/extend your documents before they expire.

  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • I-94
  • Employment Authorization

To maintain status, students must also:

  • Enroll full-time each academic term
  • Report address changes to OISS within 10 days

Scholars are required to report address changes here.

The information on the NAFSA website is updated often.  You can check here for the latest news regarding the Executive Orders.  The latest travel ban was updated June 26, 2018 and is being referred to as Travel Ban 3.0.  Chad has been removed from the list of countries subject to this travel ban, which includes Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.

On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Proclamation 9645 (Travel Ban 3.0) issued by President Trump on September 24, 2017 can be fully enforced.  This Proclamation bans travel to the United States by certain citizens of aforementioned countries.  For additional information, refer to the NAFSA: Association of International Education resource detailing country-specific restrictions and exceptions.

Court Orders on Presidential Proclamation - December 4, 2017

There are many provisions in the Executive Orders related to immigration.  This Fact Sheet will focus only on key sections that may impact international students and scholars.

Section 3(c) of Executive Order 13769, "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States" bans individuals from 7 countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entry to the United States for at least 90 days from the date of signing the EO.  This means that if you are from one of these countries and you leave the United States for any reason, you will be barred re-entry until after the ban is lifted.

Update: On February 3rd, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) that temporarily prohibits the Federal government from enforcing Section 3(c) of Executive Order 13769, the provision that established the 90-day ban on entry of "immigrants and nonimmigrants" from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  The TRO "is granted on a nationwide basis," according to the order.  The ruling is being challenged by the government.

Section 8 of Executive Order 13769 suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program for all countries.  This change may affect those who need to renew their visas in order to return to the United States.  What you can expect:

  • Personal interviews may be required
  • Delays in visa appointments worldwide
  • Additional screening at visa interviews
  • Background checks that may take several weeks or months

USCIS Implementation of Jan. 27 Executive Order

Initially, it was reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was not adjudicating applications for immigration benefits.  On February 2nd, USCIS issued a clarification:

"USCIS continues to adjudicate applications and petitions filed for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country of origin, and applications and petitions of lawful permanent residents outside the U.S.  USCIS also continues to adjudicate applications and petitions for individuals outside the U.S. whose approval does not directly confer travel authorization.  Applications to adjust status also continue to be adjudicated, according to existing policies and procedures, for applicants who are nationals of countries designated in the Jan. 27, 2017, "Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

Recommendations:

  • Individuals from the 7 affected countries - postpone travel until the ban is lifted
  • All others - plan ahead to allow sufficient time for visa proceeding and screening at port-of-entry
  • Consult OISS advisors before traveling
Office of International Students and Scholars
Global Education Center
(603) 862-1288
 
Campus Police
(603) 862-1427
 
Psychological and Counseling Services
(603) 862-2090
 
Office of Community, Equity & Diversity
(603) 862-1058
 
Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
(603) 862-5204
 
Residential Life
(see Hall Director or Hall Staff)
(603) 862-2268
American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire
 
American Immigration Council
 
American Immigration Lawyers Association
 
National Immigration Law Center
Senator Hassan's Office: State Director, Mike Vlacich:
 
Senator Shaheen's Office: Deputy State Director, Kari Thurman:
 
Congresswoman Shea-Porter's Office: State Director, Patrick Carroll:
Cell: (603) 312-0865

Unlawful Presence

An individual is considered to be unlawfully present in the United States when they violate the terms of their immigration status.  Prior to August 9, 2018, Unlawful Presence (ULP) began only after a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Officer or Immigration Judge has ruled that a status violation has occurred.

Effective August 9, 2018, a formal ruling is no longer considered necessary to establish ULP and days of unlawful presence are now counted beginning the day after the status violation.

Some examples of status violations:
  • Failing to maintain full-time enrollment
  • Failing to file timely applications for Extension of Stay or Change of Status
  • Remaining in the U.S. beyond the date (if there is one) indicated on the I-94. (Students should have D/S on the I-94 which stands for “Duration of Status”; this allows students to stay in the U.S. as long as their I-20s are valid and they are enrolled full-time.)
  • Remaining in the U.S. beyond the 30- (for J-1 students) or 60- (for F-1 students) day grace period after program completion
  • Working without proper authorization
  • For those on OPT, exceeding the days allowed for unemployment

Consequences of Unlawful Presence

Once more than 180 days of unlawful presence has accrued, an individual could be subject to a 3 to 10 year bar from admission to the U.S.  Those who accrue more than one  year of unlawful presence could be permanently barred from the U.S.

On October 23, 2018, several schools filed a legal challenge against this new policy.  A copy of the complaint can be found here.

For additional information, go to: Accrual of Unlawful Presence

If you have any questions about the applicability of the new policy to your individual situation, please reach out to us at OISS.Advisor@unh.edu.