Important Announcements

National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers

On April 27, 2021, DOS announced National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland, expanding certain NIE eligibilities to all countries subject to US geographic COVID-19 entry bans.

 

DOS's Visa News page has been updated to include this announcement, too.

 

NAFSA's COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry page has been updated, as well, and can be a helpful resource.  It provides the following breakdown of the updated NIE criteria, with excerpts from the announcement:

  • F-1 and M-1 Students.
    • "Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel."
  • Travelers "who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs"
    • "Travelers in categories described above who have a valid visa in the appropriate class or who have a valid ESTA authorization for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and seek to travel for purposes consistent with ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception. If a National Interest Exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate."
    • "Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later."
  • "[Q]ualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security."

It may also be helpful to follow today's DOS expands national interest exceptions ISTA conversation as DSOs make sense of some of the announcement's language

Arrival and COVID-19 Testing Information

  • UNH recommends those who have reserved rooms in the residence halls to arrive no earlier than Monday, August 24, and preferably closer to the beginning of classes on August 31. You will receive arrival and move-in instructions at a later date.
  • A 14-day quarantine period is required to be on campus. Follow these self-quarantine guidelines for 14 days (based on NH DHHS guidelines: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/self-quarantine-covid.pdf)
    • Ø  Stay home from school and work

      Ø  Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares

      Ø  Do not have any visitors during this time

      Ø  If you must have visitors, tell them that you are under quarantine

      Ø  Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters)

      Ø  Take your temperature with a thermometer at least two times a day

      Ø  Watch for other symptoms such as fever, respiratory illness (cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath), mild flu-like illness (fatigue, chills, muscle aches) and/or loss of taste or smell

      Ø  Record your temperature and symptoms

  • You may quarantine anywhere outside or within the United States, but you must confirm that you have done so. Copy, paste, sign and print the statement below. You will be asked for this document when you check-in to your residence hall.

    I, (First Name) (Last Name), (UNH ID Number) confirm that I complied with the required 14-day quarantine period in (Specify Address) which started on (Start Date) and ended on (End Date).

     

    Signature___________________________________________                 Date____________________________

  • A 14-day quarantine period is required to be on campus (see quarantine guidelines above).
  • You are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result obtained no earlier than 7 days prior to arrival on campus.
  • On-campus testing will be available. Before the test, please register online. Use your ‘@wildcats.unh.edu’ email to register and bring your UNH ID or your passport (only if you do not have a UNH ID) to the testing site for verification. UNH has also partnered with Convenient MD and Quest (these are private health facilities) for testing that will be free of charge.
  • Test results will be maintained by UNH Health & Wellness and shared only with the individual and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
  • If you are a new student, OISS will schedule in-person meetings with you so it will be helpful if you can share test results with our office (oiss.advisor@unh.edu).
  • If you test positive for the virus, you will be placed in a quarantine dorm on campus and will be provided meals (please confirm). UNH Health and Wellness will monitor your condition and manage any necessary medical care.
  • You will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival on campus. You have to register online using your ‘@wildcats.unh.edu’ email.
  • Bring your UNH ID or passport to the testing site for verification. (Note: most new students will not have their UNH IDs.)
  • Test results will be maintained by UNH Health & Wellness and shared only with you and the NH Department of Health and Human Services.
  • If you are a new student, OISS will schedule in-person meetings with you so it will be helpful if you can share test results with our office (oiss.advisor@unh.edu).
  • If you test positive for the virus, you will be placed in a quarantine dorm on campus and will be provided meals. UNH Health and Wellness will monitor your condition and manage any necessary medical care.
  • You are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result obtained no earlier than 7 days prior to arrival on campus.
  • On-campus testing will be available. Before the test, please register online. Use your ‘@wildcatsunh.edu’ email to register and bring your UNH ID or your passport (only of you do not have a UNH ID) to the testing site for verification. UNH has also partnered with some Convenient MD and Quest locations (these are private healthcare facilities) for testing that will be free of charge.
  • Test results will be maintained by UNH Health & Wellness and shared only with the individual and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
  • If you are a new student, OISS will schedule in-person meetings with you so it will be helpful if you can share test results with our office (oiss.advisor@unh.edu).
  • If you test positive for the virus, you will be placed in a quarantine dorm on campus and will be provided meals. UNH Health and Wellness will monitor your condition and manage any necessary medical care.

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

On Friday, July 24, ICE/SEVP provided clarification to the March 2020 guidance for the Fall semester. Although there are still some unanswered questions, we are pleased to share good news with you for a change. Please contact oiss.advisor@unh.edu if you wish to discuss your individual situations. We are available to assist and support you in making your decisions regarding the coming term.

THE UPDATED GUIDANCE CLARIFIES IMPORTANT ISSUES:

  • Continuing students who were enrolled full-time on March 9, 2020, left the country, but maintained full-time enrollment, can re-enter the United States.
  • More than one online class can count towards full-time enrollment.
  • Students enrolled full-time in online classes only will maintain their F-1 status, whether courses are taken in the United States or outside the United States.
  • Since UNH is planning to offer a mix of hybrid (courses with face-to-face component) and online courses, new students or those on “Initial” I-20s (e.g., continuing students who are changing their degree level) will be allowed to enter the United States.

The following recommendations from the march 2020 guidance still apply.

Recommendations for Continuing F-1 Students and New Students Currently in the United States:

  • Enroll full-time
    • Undergraduates must enroll in at least 12 credits
    • Graduates must enroll in at least 9 credits
    • Graduates with Assistantships must enroll in at least 6 credits
    • Note: Registration for GRAD 900 or GRAD 999 also confers full-time status
  • Talk to your OISS Advisor if you cannot maintain full-time enrollment.
  • Choose hybrid courses first (those with an in-person component) available.
  • There is no limit to the number of courses you are allowed to take, but the courses must be those that are needed to make progress in your degree program.
  • Notify OISS of address changes within 10 days

Recommendations for F-1 Continuing Students Planning to Remain Outside the United States:

  • Enroll online full-time in order to keep your SEVIS record (I-20) active
  • If full-time enrollment is not possible, contact oiss.advisor@unh.edu
  • Apply to UNH for a Leave of Absence/Withdrawal if you do not wish to enroll for Fall 2020

We know you have many questions and we will do our best to address them based on the information available to us at this time. We ask for your continued patience as we try to learn more about these guidelines.

 

ICE/SEVP Message about Fall 2021

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will extend the guidance originally issued in March 2020 for the 2021-22 academic year. This guidance enables schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to the continuing public health concerns created by COVID-19. The March 2020 guidance applies to nonimmigrant students who were actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, and are otherwise complying with the terms of their nonimmigrant status, whether from inside the United States or abroad. A summary of the March 2020 guidance is available below. Significantly, there are no changes to the original guidance, which will remain in effect during the 2021-22 academic year.

As stated in the March 2020 guidance, Active F and M students will be permitted to temporarily count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the regulatory limits stated in 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) and 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(m)(9)(v) for the 2021-22 academic year. The March 2020 guidance applies to continuing F and M nonimmigrant students who were in valid F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status on March 9, 2020, including those previously enrolled in entirely online classes who are outside of the United States and seeking to re-enter the country for the 2021-22 academic year. Students actively enrolled at a U.S. school on March 9, 2020, who subsequently took courses online while outside of the country can re-enter the United States, even if their school is engaged solely in distance learning.

In accordance with the March 2020 guidance, new or Initial F and M students who were not previously enrolled in a program of study on March 9, 2020, will not be able to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant student for the 2021-22 academic year if their course of study is 100 percent online. A new student should be allowed to enter the United States if they are engaged in a hybrid program, with some requirement for in-person learning. Consistent with this restriction, DSOs should not issue a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” for a student in new or Initial status who is outside of the United States and plans to take classes at an SEVP-certified educational institution that is operating fully online.

If an SEVP-certified school has previously submitted a procedural change plan detailing its alternative procedures, it does not need to resubmit the plan for the 2021-22 academic year, unless the school is making substantive changes. Consistent with the provisions of the March 2020 guidance, substantive changes should be submitted to SEVP within 10 business days of the decision to implement the change. For more information on submitting a procedural change plan, please refer to Broadcast Message 2003-01, linked below.

Stakeholders can refer to SEVP’s current policy guidance and frequently asked questions at ICE.gov/Coronavirus, under the Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-certified Schools header:

·         Broadcast Message 2003-01: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Potential Procedural Adaptations for F and M Nonimmigrant Students (March 9, 2020).

·         COVID-19: Scenarios for SEVP-certified Schools for Emergency Procedures (March 13, 2020).

·         Frequently Asked Questions from SEVP Stakeholders about COVID-19.

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.

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.