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Immigration

Major Immigration Updates

This page includes information about recent major updates in immigration policy, guidance, or law.

IMMIGRATION NEWS ALERT

November 13, 2017 -- U.S. 9th Circuilt Court of Appeals Issues Decision to Temporarily Allow Travel Ban to Go Into Effect -- The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an Emergency Motion to Stay the ruling of the district court that barred the implmentation of the Presidential Proclamation ("travel ban") issued on September 24, 2017. This Emergency Stay will remain in effect until December 6, 2017, when the 9th Circuit will hear arguments of the federal government's appeal of the lower court ruling in Hawaii that had effectively blocked the travel ban instituted by the Presidential Proclamation.
This decision allows the federal government to impose travel restrictions to the U.S. by nationals of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad who do not have a "bona fide connection to the United States". Nationals of North Korea and Government Officials/Family members of Government Officials of Venezuela, who were designated as subject to the travel ban issued on September 24, remain subject to the travel ban.
Updates will be provided to this webpage following the Trump Administration appeals that will be heard on December 6 in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (Hawaii) and on December 8 in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Maryland).

November 9, 2017 -- Trump Administration tightens rules on travel to Cuba -- Effective November 9, the Trump Administration has issued new rules that limit travel to and trade with Cuba. Published in the Federal Register, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations are a follow up to a June 16, 2017 Presidential Memorandum "Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba". For U.S. Citizens, indiviual tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited, while nonacademic educational travel is only allowed through a tour group licensed by the U.S Treasury Department. While non-U.S. Citizens traveling to Cuba are not subject to the same restrictions, such travelers can face additional questions at port-of-entry upon return to the U.S. about the nature of their travel. International students and scholars should consult with the MIT International Students and MIT International Scholars Office in advance of any travel to Cuba.

November 7, 2017 -- U.S. Embassy/Consulates in Turkey resume processing of Nonimmigrant Visas on Limited Basis -- The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Turkey have resumed issuance of nonimmigrant visas to Turkish citizens on a limited basis, with updates on the procedures available on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Turkey website. The Turkish Government has similarly announced it will process visas for U.S. Citizens at its Embassy/Consulates in the U.S.

November 2, 2017 -- MIT joins court brief in support of "Dreamers" - Legal filing is part of larger set of Institute actions to aid DACA students (MIT News Office)

October 23, 2017 -- USCIS issues new policy memorandum for Additional Scrutiny of Employment Applications -- In USCIS' new policy memo, it advises its adjudicators that they can and should review the basis of any initial granting of an employment visa status when adjudicating an application for extension of that status. Past practice on review of extension petitions focused only on any significant changes to the previously approved petition or any instances of material error or fraud. This could impact processing times for many employment visa petitions (such as H-1B, L-1, TN, O-1), and may result in an increasing volume of Requests for Evidence (RFE) being issued by USCIS before adjudicating the petitions. Be sure to work closely with your employer to insure proper filing of petitions and planning for longer processing times.

October 18, 2017 -- Federal Judge Blocks Most Recent Travel Ban -- On October 17, 2017, a federal judge blocked, via a temporary restraining order, the implementation of the Presidential Proclamation (travel ban), signed on September 24, 2017. The Proclamation was due to take effect on October 18, and created new travel restrictions on nationals of eight countries. See our prior announcement and summary of the Proclamation below (dated September 24, 2017).  The judge’s ruling blocks implementation of the ban on nationals from all but two countries (North Korea and Venezuela). We anticipate that U.S. Consulates and border officials will be given guidance about appropriate processes and procedures following this court decision and we will post updates on this site as information becomes available.  In addition, the government has stated that it intends to appeal this decision and we anticipate future court rulings may affect this decision.  We will keep you updated about the results of any appeal.

Individuals from countries designated in the Presidential Proclamation, who do not have current valid visas for return to the US, are advised to exercise caution when planning any travel, and encouraged to meet with their advisor at the MIT International Students Office or MIT International Scholars Office prior to finalizing any travel plans abroad. 

All international students and scholars, even from countries not designated in the Proclamation, are advised that any visa application at a US Embassy/Consulate will likely face heightened scrutiny and processing times may be impacted.

To view a copy of the temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, click here.

Statement from U.S. Department of Homeland Security on planned appeal of judge's decision, click here.

 

October 9, 2017 -- U.S. Department of State Suspends Visa Services (Nonimmigrant) at U.S. Consulates in Turkey -- On October 9, 2017, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey posted a statement and video to the U.S. Embassy in Turkey website notifying of the suspension of visa services to Turkish nationals at all U.S. Consulates in Turkey until further notice. The following are the key points communicated:
(1) The suspension applies to “consideration of new visa applications” at U.S. Embassy/Consulates in Turkey.
(2) The suspension of visa services “is not a visa ban on Turkish citizens”. Individuals who hold currently valid U.S. visas in their passports are eligible to continue to travel and enter the U.S. within the validity dates of the visa for the appropriate visa status.
(3) Turkish nationals are eligible to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate outside of Turkey during this time.

A copy of the Ambassador’s written and video statement is available here.

It is important to note that Turkey has also similarly suspended visa services to U.S. Citizens seeking visas to Turkey. A statement from the Turkish Government has been posted on the U.S. Embassy in Turkey website.

We will be sure to update you if additional information is provided by the U.S. Department of State.

If you have any questions, or have been considering travel outside the US, or entry to the US, in the near future, please contact your ISO Advisor.

October 3, 2017 -- USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Visa Petitions

September 24, 2017Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats – On September 24, the White House released a Presidential Proclamation that created new travel restrictions on specific nationals of 8 countries – Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.  These travel restrictions are the result of a U.S. government review of visa issuance and security procedures undertaken as a result of the previous Executive Order 13780 issued on March 6, 2017. 

The designations have been based upon many factors outlined in the Proclamation, including, among other security factors, the failure of the countries to (1) provide sufficient exchange of information on its nationals in visa procedures to determine if they pose national security threats to the U.S., (2) meet established standards for identity documentation, and (3) receive from the U.S. their nationals who are designated for deportation. 

Please read a copy of the Proclamation here.

Individuals subject to travel restrictions are advised to consult with the MIT International Students Office (international students) or MIT International Scholars Office (international scholars, postdocs, faculty), for guidance before planning any travel abroad. 

Effective on September 24, 2017 (3:30pm Eastern Daylight Time):

* Nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen are subject to restrictions if they were covered by the previous Executive Order/travel ban, unless they have a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States, are eligible for an exemption, or are granted a waiver. 

* Nationals of Sudan are no longer subject to restrictions.

Effective beginning on October 18, 2017:

* Nationals of all eight designated countries (Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen) are subject to country-specific travel restrictions, unless exempt or granted a waiver, as described below;

*Nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. are subject to the restrictions and limitations;

*Visa appointments at U.S. Consulates will not be canceled for foreign nationals subject to restrictions based on the Proclamation. During visa interviews, consular officers will determine whether those applicants qualify for an exemption or waiver.

Under this new Proclamation [Section 2], certain nationals of the eight designated countries are subject to travel restrictions as summarized below unless exempted or if granted a waiver:

Chad:  No U.S. visitor visas (B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2); No immigrant or Diversity Lottery visas.

Iran:  No nonimmigrant visas, except F and M student visas and J exchange visitor visas (though those individuals will be subject to enhanced screening/vetting requirements); No immigrant or Diversity Lottery visas.

Libya:  No U.S. visitor visas (B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2); No immigrant or Diversity Lottery) visas.

North Korea:  No nonimmigrant, immigrant, or Diversity Lottery visas.

Somalia:  Nonimmigrant visa applications subject to heightened scrutiny/review; No immigrant or Diversity Lottery visas.

Syria:  No nonimmigrant, immigrant, or Diversity Lottery visas.

Venezuela:  No U.S. visitor visas (B-1, B-2 or B-1/B-2) for officials of designated Venezuelan government agencies and their family members.  Other visa holders are subject to verification of traveler information.  No restrictions on immigrant or Diversity Lottery visas.

Yemen:   No U.S. visitor visas (B-1, B-2, or B-1/B-2); No immigrant or Diversity Lottery visas.

The Proclamation also provided the following updates on two countries designated by the previous Executive Order:

Iraq:  Nationals of Iraq are no longer subject to travel restrictions, but will be subject to additional scrutiny/review when applying for U.S. visas at U.S. Consulates and upon entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Sudan:  Has been removed from list of countries subject to travel restrictions, but will be subject to additional scrutiny/review when applying for U.S. visas at U.S. Consulates and at ports-of-entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The following foreign nationals are NOT subject to the travel restrictions set forth by the Proclamation [Section 3(a)-(b)]:
* U.S. lawful permanent residents;
* Dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country;
* Foreign nationals who were in the United States on the applicable effective date, regardless of their immigration status (can remain in the U.S. but would face difficulty returning to U.S. if they do not already have a valid visa in their passport);
* Foreign nationals who have a valid visa on the applicable effective date (can still enter the U.S. from abroad);
* Foreign nationals admitted or paroled into the United States on or after the applicable effective date;
* Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) that is valid on the applicable effective date or issued thereafter, that permits them to travel to the U.S. and seek entry or admission;
* Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic/diplomatic-type visa, NATO, C-2, G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-4 visa (except certain Venezuelan government officials and their family members travelling on diplomatic type B-1, B-2, or B1/B2 visas);
* Any foreign national who has been granted asylum by the United States;
* Any refugee who has been admitted to the United States; and
* Any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

While the Proclamation outlines that waivers [Section 3(c)] to visa issuance under these new restrictions will be considered on a case-by-case basis at time of visa application at U.S. Consulates, there are no guarantees that such waivers will be granted.  Some examples of cases that may be considered relevant to international students and scholars, include (please see Proclamation for full list):
* “(A)  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 applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry would impair that activity;”
* “(B)  the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation for work, study, or other lawful activity;”
* “(C)  the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;”
* “(D)  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 would cause the foreign national undue hardship;”
* “(I)  the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor;”

The Proclamation also states that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will conduct periodic reviews of all countries to determine if current restrictions will be continued, modified, or terminated, and if additional countries will face travel restrictions.  The restrictions will remain in place unless and until such a determination is made.

Again, individuals subject to travel restrictions are advised to consult with the MIT International Students Office (international students) or MIT International Scholars Office (international scholars, postdocs, faculty), for guidance before planning any travel abroad. 

The “Major Immigration Updates” website will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. 

Additional Resources:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Releases
* USDHS FAQ: Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats
*
USDHS Fact Sheet: The President’s Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

White House Press Releases
* September 24, 2017 - President Donald J. Trump Strengthens Security Standards For Traveling to America
*
September 24, 2017 - President Donald J. Trump Announces Enhanced National Security Measures
*
September 24, 2017 - Statement by Acting Secretary Elaine Duke on the President's Proclamation on Enhanced Global Security Measures

NAFSA: Association of International Educators
*Executive Order/Travel Ban: NAFSA Resources

 

September 11, 2017 -- U.S. Supreme Court issues order to stay the 9th Circuit's ruling on Certain Refugees Exempt from Travel Ban -- On September 11, 2017, just days after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that certain classes of refugees would be exempt from the ban on entry to the U.S. if the refugee "have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program ("USRAP") through the Lautenberg Amendment", the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the 9th Circuit's ruling. This will allow for the "travel ban" to remain in place even for those refugees that have the "formal assurances" relationship with the resettlement agencies in the U.S. The Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on the full Executive Order/"travel ban" case (Trump v. Hawaii, et al.) when it reconvenes in early October.

To view a copy of the Supreme Court's Order (No. 17A275), click here.

September 7, 2017 -- 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Narrows Scope of Travel Ban - Extended Family Members and Certain Refugees Exempt -- On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an opinion that modified the preliminary injunction on Executive Order 13780 that affirms the broader definition of "close relationship to a U.S. person" to include "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of persones in the U.S." Individuals from the 6 designated countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) with these familial relationships would now be exempt from the ban of entry to the U.S. as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. The Court's ruling also indicates that certain classes of refugees would also be exempt from the ban of entry to the U.S. if the refugee "have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program ("USRAP") through the Lautenberg Amendment."

A copy of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion is available here.

A link to a history of the filings with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the Hawaii v. Trump, Modification of Injunction Appeal ("Travel Ban") 17-16426 is available here.

September 5, 2017 -- White House Announces Rescission of DACA -- On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration will be rescinding the Presidential Memorandum issued by former President Obama that established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In the official announcement, President Trump stated that the effective date of rescission will be in 6 months (March 5, 2018), providing time for Congress to enact legislation to determine the future of the DACA program.

For the official announcement from the White House, click here.
Read an additional statement from President Trump here.

Additional Government Resources on DACA Rescission:
* U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) Official Press Release
* USDHS DACA Rescission 2017 Announcement webpage
* Letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Acting USDHS Secretary Elaine C. Duke
* Official Memorandum from Acting USDHS Secretary Elaine C. Duke
* USDHS Frequently Asked Questions on the DACA Rescission
* USCIS 2017 DACA Rescission Announcement: What it Means (chart)
* USCIS Official Website - Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

MIT Responses and Resources:
* MIT President L. Rafael Reif's Op-Ed in The Boston Globe supporting preservation of DACA -- read the MIT News release and the Boston Globe Op-Ed.
* MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart's letter in support of MIT's DACA students
* MIT Chancellor's Office website - additional information/Frequently Asked Questions about DACA

August 28, 2017 -- USCIS To Require In-Person Interviews for Employment-Based Permanent Residency Applicants

 

CONTENTS

MIT International Students Office (ISO) Notices/Resources

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Presidential Executive Orders (Official)

  • June 14, 2017 -- President Trump issues Memorandum regarding Effective Date of Executive Order 13780 once Court Decisions are Finalized -- President Trump issued a memorandum today indicating that the effective date for Executive Order 13780, which included the 'Travel Ban' will go into effect "within 72 hours" after the current court injunctions are lifted. This announcement comes as the White House and U.S. Department of Justice await a decision from the Supreme Court if it will hear the case and allow the travel ban to be implemented in the interim period before the Supreme Court would officially hear the case.
    If a decision is made by the Supreme Court to lift the injunctions, additional guidance will be needed from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security on implementation timelines and procedures.
    The ISO will update this webpage once additional information is available.

  • April 18, 2017 -- Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American -- The White House issued a new Executive Order that calls for reforms of the H-1B visa and other employment-based immigration programs. The Executive Order directs a comprehensive review of the employment-based visa programs to be undertaken by the appropriate government agencies and to propose recommendations for revisions to program rules and guidance. Recommendations will likely include tougher eligibility criteria for the H-1B visa, ways to replace the H-1B lottery system, and heightened immigration enforcement to prevent fraud and abuse of the U.S. immigration system. Please click here to read the full text of the Executive Order.

  • March 6 2017 -- Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States
    • Applies to foreign nationals currently outside of the U.S. who do NOT have a valid visa issued by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad.
    •The Order suspends the issuance of any new immigrant or nonimmigrant visas to a citizen or national of 6 countries – Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen – for 90 days.  Iraq is no longer included in the list of countries impacted by the Order, but may face enhanced security screening and visa processing times.
    •The Order does NOT apply to individuals of these 6 countries with valid visas in their passports issued by a US Consulate abroad.  While the previous Order of January 27 provisionally revoked valid visas, this new Order confirms that the valid visas are no longer considered revoked and are valid for entry to the U.S. for the period of the visa.

    •The Order does NOT apply to U.S. Citizens, U.S. Permanent Residents (individuals who hold Green Cards, but not those with pending applications for U.S. Permanent Residency with USCIS), individuals granted Asylum, or an individual already admitted to the U.S. as a Refugee.
    •Dual nationals (individuals who hold a valid passport in one of the 6 designated countries and a passport issued by another country that is not one of the 6 designated countries) are NOT subject to the entry restrictions of the Order if they are traveling to the U.S. on their passport issued by the non-designated country.
    •Waivers on the suspension of entry (or obtaining a new visa) to the U.S. may be considered on a case-by-case basis.  We look forward to receiving more guidance on the process to request such Waivers and if it will be applicable to our international students.
    •Mandates the development of a new screening program; rescinds the visa interview waiver -- all visa applications now require an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad.
    • Refugee Program is suspended for 120 days.
    • Maximum of 50,000 refugees would be allowed to enter the US in FY 2017.
    • Reduces by half the number of allowed refugee admissions - capped at 50,000.
    • Mandates the expedited completion of the biometric entry-exit tracking system.
    • Mandates a review of all the visa reciprocity agreements to ensure actual reciprocity of benefits.

  • March 6, 2017 -- Memorandum for the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security

  • January 27, 2017 -- Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States (Executive Order 13769)
    Provisions include:                                                                                 
    • Directs DHS and State to review info needed from any country to adjudicate a visa, and to ensure that the applicant is who they say they are, and has no harmful intentions to the US. Report to the President any country that does not provide required information, and ban citizens of that country form entering the U.S. (Within 90 days).
    • Both immigrant and non-immigrant entry to the U.S is suspended for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. This ban maybe extended based on the first provision above.
    • Mandates the development of a new screening program; rescinds the visa interview waiver -- all visa applications now require an in-person interview.
    • Refugee Program is suspended for 120 days. After that, admission will be prioritized for regions-based prosecution. The person's religion must be a minority religion in their country.
    • Bans all refugee admissions for citizens of Syria.
    • Reduces by half the number of allowed refugee admissions - capped at 50,000.
    • Mandates the expedited completion of the biometric entry-exit tracking system.
    • Mandates a review of all the visa reciprocity agreements to ensure actual reciprocity of benefits.
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Court Cases / Guidance

  • September 7, 2017 -- 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Narrows Scope of Travel Ban - Extended Family Members and Certain Refugees Exempt -- On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an opinion that modified the preliminary injunction on Executive Order 13780 that affirms the broader definition of "close relationship to a U.S. person" to include "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of persones in the U.S." Individuals from the 6 designated countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) with these familial relationships would now be exempt from the ban of entry to the U.S. as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. The Court's ruling also indicates that certain classes of refugees would also be exempt from the ban of entry to the U.S. if the refugee "have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program ("USRAP") through the Lautenberg Amendment."

    A copy of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion is available here.

    A link to a history of the filings with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the Hawaii v. Trump, Modification of Injunction Appeal ("Travel Ban") 17-16426 is available here.


  • June 26, 2017 -- U.S. Supreme Court Rules to Lift Injunction on Executive Order Travel Ban -- The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling today that places a stay on lower court injunctions that prevented implementation of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order that included a travel/entry ban on individuals from 6 designated countries. This ruling will allow for components of the travel ban to go into effect until the Court will hear the case during its session in Fall 2017.
    We are awaiting additional details from the White House, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security regarding implementation and timeline. This website will be updated soon with additional information.

    To view a copy of the Supreme Court ruling, click here.

  • June 12, 2017 -- 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Injunction on Executive Order Travel/Entry Ban -- On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a ruling that upholds the injunction from a lower court (State of Hawaii v. Trump) that prevents implementation of the entry ban on individuals entering the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as all refugees.

    A copy of the Court’s opinion is available here.

    Of additional note, the Court did vacate part of the injunction that prohibited the Federal government from conducting a review of U.S. visa application procedures and security check policies at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.  The Court affirmed that the Federal government does have such authority to conduct such reviews. 

    The impact of the 9th Circuit’s decision is that, as of now, the Entry Ban is not being enforced and foreign nationals who were the subject of the proposed elements of the Executive Order are still eligible to apply for visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad and enter the U.S. as long as they are otherwise eligible to enter the U.S.

    The Trump Administration has filed a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction in this case, and in a case filed in Maryland, regarding the Executive Order of March 6, 2017.  We will be sure to provide updates once we hear if the Supreme Court will decide to hear this case. 

    The ISO does recommend that any student from one of the 6 designated countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) to meet with your ISO Advisor before considering any plans of travel outside the U.S. or returning to the U.S.

  • June 1, 2017 -- Trump Administration files Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Executive Order Injunction -- Notification of the action by the Trump Administration was made in a number of news reports. Links to official documentation will be provided to this site soon.

  • May 25, 2017 -- 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Declines to Reinstate Executive Order Entry Ban -- On May 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Maryland declined to reinstate the components of the Executive Order of March 6, 2017 that would prevent entry to the U.S., and bar to apply for visas to the U.S., for 90 days for individuals from 6 designated countries (Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen).  The Executive Order also would have suspended entry for 120 days of all refugees unless they qualified for a waiver to the suspension. 

    A copy of the Court's opinion is available here.

    This ruling means that individuals from the 6 designated countries are eligible to apply for visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad and enter the U.S., as long as they are otherwise admissible to the U.S.

    It is important to note that another appeal by the Trump Administration to reinstate the Executive Order is pending review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.  A ruling from the 9th Circuit is expected within the next month. 
    We will be sure to provide an update once we receive any updates. 

    The ISO does recommend that any student from one of the 6 designated countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) to meet with your ISO Advisor before considering any plans of travel outside the U.S. or returning to the U.S.

  • March 16, 2017 – Two federal courts have issued orders blocking enforcement of the travel ban in the second Executive Order on immigration issued by President Trump on March 6, 2017. The court orders apply nationwide and prohibit the Trump Administration from acting on the portions of the March 6 Executive Order that would have barred entry into the U.S. of nationals of six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – for 90 days. Because these court rulings will be subject to additional court review, members of the MIT community from those six countries are encouraged to consult with the International Students Office or International Scholars Office before traveling outside the U.S.

  • To view a copy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii Temporary Restraining Order, click here.

    To view a copy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Memorandum Opinion, click here; and to view the Temporary Restraining Order, click here.

  • March 15, 2017 - U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii Temporary Restraining Order against the Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017.
  • March 15, 2017 - U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Memorandum Opinion and Temporary Restraining Order agains the Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017.
  • February 9, 2017 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Temporary Restraining Order against the travel ban instituted by the Executive Order remains in place. Additional appeals are expected.
  • February 3, 2017 -- Court Order suspending implementation of Executive Order -- State of Washington v. Trump 2:17-cv-00141 (W.D. Wash.) [PDF]
  • February 3, 2017 -- Denial of Extension of Temporary Restraining Order issued by U.S. District Court of Massachusetts; restraining order to expire on February 5, 2017.
  • February 2, 2017 -- Temporary Restraining Order [PDF] issued by U.S. District Court of Massachusetts to provide temporary stay in visa revocation and entry ban to Massachusetts, valid until February 5, 2017.
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U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) Guidance

USDHS oversees all immigration related functions and regulatory implementation within the U.S., including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS), and the U.S. Border Patrol.

  • April 3, 2017 -- US Department of Homeland Security, in a motion filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (in the case of Save Jobs USA v. DHS), have indicated DHS' intention to review the H-4 visa employment authorization document program. H-4 spouses can still apply for work permission if eligible, but the DHS review may lead to changes in or termination of the H-4 employment authorization document program.

  • March 21, 2017– U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted on its news webpage a Q&A regarding new security procedures at certain airports abroad, titled “Q&A:  Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States.”

    The statement from DHS indicates that, under this directive, “all passengers flying through and from these locations (to the U.S.) will have to place electronic devices that are larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked bags regardless of the passenger’s citizenship.”  DHS states that airlines have been notified that they have 96 hours from March 21 to implement these new measures (by 8:00am on March 25, 2017).  These security measures, according to the DHS posting, will be in effect indefinitely and subject to review and evaluation based on intelligence resources, and the statement does not rule out adding additional airports to the current list of 10 airports. 

    These new measures will affect passengers flying to the U.S. from one of the 10 airports listed below:

    Jordan: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)
    Egypt: Cairo International Airport (CAI)
    Turkey: Ataturk International Airport (IST) 
    Saudi Arabia: King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah
    Saudi Arabia: King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh
    Kuwait: Kuwait International Airport (KWI) 
    Morocco: Mohammed V Airport (CMN)
    Qatar: Hamad International Airport (DOH) 
    United Arab Emirates: Dubai International Airport (DXB)
    United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

    The DHS Q&A is a helpful resource, so we encourage our international community to read the announcement in its entirety.

     The ISO will continue to provide updates on the ISO Major Immigration Updates webpage as we receive additional information. 

  • February 20, 2017 -- USDHS has released two Implementation Memos to DHS staff providing guidance related to the recent Executive Orders on border security and enforcement of immigration laws. The two memos can be accessed on the USDHS website:
    *Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies
    *Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest
  • February 3, 2017 -- USDHS Press Release - Statement on Compliance with Recent Court Order
    USDHS has suspended an actions implementing portions of the Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” in accordance to recent court ruling. DHS Press Release – Statement on Compliance with Recent Court Order
  • January 29, 2017 -- USDHS issued both a statement from DHS Secretary John Kelly and a Fact Sheet that provides confirmation that U.S. Citizens and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) are not subject to the entry restriction under the Executive Order. Permanent Residents are advised, however, to speak with their immigration attorney to clarify any issues prior to any travel outside of the U.S.
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Guidance

Processes immigration benefit applications at USCIS Service Centers within the U.S.; including change of status applications, F-1 Optional Practical Training, J-2 work permission, and H-1B petitions.

  • April 17, 2017 -- USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Section Process for FY 2018 - USCIS announced that, as of April 7, 2017, they have received enough H-1B petitions to fulfill the H-1B cap for the Fiscal Year 2018. USCIS announced that they received over 199,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period and have completed the computer-generated random selction process (lottery) to confirm a sufficient number of petitions have been received. To read the full release, please click here.
    (Please note that the cap-subject filings do not apply to employers who are colleges/universities, university-affiliated research institutes, or government-affiliated research institutes)
    If you have an employer who filed an H-1B petition on your behalf, it will be important to be in contact with your employer to guide you as they await notification if your petition has been selected by USCIS.
  • April 7, 2017 -- USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap -- USCIS announces that they have received sufficient H-1B petitions to meet the maximum number of H-1B visas available for FY 2018.
  • April 3, 2017 -- Putting American Workers First: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse -- USCIS announced today in a news release that it will engage in additional targeted visits to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees to investigate and prevent "fraud and abuse" of the H-1B visa program. It also announced a new email address for the public to report potential abuses or violations of the H-1B visa.
  • March 31, 2017 -- USCIS issues policy memorandum rescinding guidance memo on H-1B visas for computer-related positions. This memo would lead to more strict review of H-1B petitions filed for positions that are for computer/computer programming positions. Individuals should be in contact with their employers/immigration attorneys for more guidance on how this may impact their H-1B petition filing.

  • March 6, 2017 - Statement by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on President's Executive Order Signed Today
  • March 3, 2017 - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petition, starting on April 3, 2017. This will apply to all H-1B petitions, cap-subject and cap-exempt. Individuals whose employers will be filing H-1B petitions on their behalf should be in contact with their employers (human resources offices or immigration attorney handling their visa applications) for guidance on how this may impact your H-1B petitions.
  • February 3, 2017 -- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Implementation of January 27 Executive Order [PDF]
    USCIS has announced, counter to previous reports in the press, that there is no current “hold” on processing applications for immigration benefits filed with USCIS that does not “directly confer travel authorization” (including change of status (I-539), F-1 Optional Practical Training (I-765), J-2 work permission (I-765), H-1B petitions (I-539), etc.). Applications can be filed with USCIS, receipted, and processed.  Please note that the status of application processing could change at any time in response to pending court decisions.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Guidance

Oversees all ports-of-entry to the U.S., including international airports and land crossings

  • February 1, 2017 -- USCBP website announcement on action related to Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. Includes a Frequently Asked Questions section about the Executive Order.
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U.S. Department of State (USDOS) Guidance

Oversees U.S. Embassies and Consulates Abroad

  • August 23, 2017 -- U.S. Embassy/Consular Posts Suspend Operations Until August 31; Operations Resume September 1 Only at U.S. Embassy in Moscow - On August 21, 2017, the US Department of State announced that it is suspending U.S. nonimmigrant visa operations at all U.S. Embassy/Consulate posts in Russia from August 23 to August 31, due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia.

    Beginning September 1, 2017, nonimmigrant visa interviews will resume but will be conducted only at the US Embassy in Moscow.

    An additional notation in the announcement informs that applications for U.S. nonimmigrant visas from residents of Belarus will no longer be accepted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow or U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg. Residents of Belarus will need to schedule visa interviews at either the U.S Embassy in Warsaw (Poland), Kyiv (Ukraine), or Vilnius (Lithuania).

    For more information, please see the US Department of State’s Fact Sheet here.

    Anyone planning to travel to Russia who would need a new visa to return to the U.S. should contact the MIT International Students Office (all students) or the MIT International Scholars Office (international faculty, researchers, scholars, postdocs) as soon as possible.

    It is unknown at this time when nonimmigrant processing at other consular locations will resume. Please monitor the U.S. Embassy website and this website for developments.

    June 30, 2017 -- U.S. Department of State Issues Guidance to U.S. Consulate Posts on Implementation of Executive Order 13780 Travel Ban -- According to a copy of the U.S. Department of State Cable obtained and posted by Reuters, the Executive Order travel ban impacting individuals from 6 designated countries (Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) went into effect worldwide on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 8:00pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The implementation takes into account the ruling and conditions set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2017, and will be in effect until the Supreme Court hears the full case in its next judicial session (which begins in October 2017).

    Key provisions of the implementation include:
    *Does NOT apply to: U.S. Citizens; U.S. Permanent Residents (Green Card holders); individuals who are not nationals of the 6 designated countries; dual nationals traveling on a passport and visa documentation from a country other than the 6 designated countries; individuals current in the U.S.
    *Does NOT apply to individuals with existing valid visas to the U.S. issued by a U.S. Embassy/Consulate (no visa revocation was implemented)
    *U.S. Embassies/Consulates will continue to schedule visa interviews and proces visa applications for individuals from the 6 designated countries who have a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S." This would include individuals who are admitted to and/or attending an academic program at MIT on an F-1 or J-1 visa (and their F-2 and J-2 visa dependents), as well as individuals with approved authorization for post-degree-completion F-1 OPT and J-1 Academic Training with a valid job offer with a U.S. entity for the training.

    The ISO has issued a letter to all international students, including newly admitted students, current students, and individuals on authorized post-degree-completion F-1 OPT and J-1 Academic Training, to provide further information. A copy of the ISO letter can be read here.

    Individuals from the 6 designated countries are advised to contact their ISO Advisor if they are planning any travel outside the U.S. and will be needing to apply for a new vias at a U.S. Consulate abroad. If any student has any questions about travel and the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling and the Executive Order, they are also advised to contact the ISO.

    A copy of the U.S. Department of State unclassified cable, posted by Reuters, is available here.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has posted a "Frequently Asked Questions" page (dated June 29, 2017) on the Executive Order/travel ban to its website here.

    Additional information provided by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be posted to this webpage as it becomes available. Please be sure to check back to this webpage often.

    June 2, 2017 -- U.S. Department of State Adding Additional Visa Application Questions for Security Vetting Procedures
    On June 2, 2017, the U.S. Department of State provided to Consular Officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad guidance on additional questions that could be asked to provide clarification on security issues in order to make a decision on the visa application.  The new visa questions are not required of all visa applicants, but the Consular officer has discretion to request the additional information to assist in processing the visa application.  It is understood that factors including country of citizenship/residence/birth, area of study or research (such as STEM fields), travel history, and other security considerations will influence if the additional information will be requested.

    The initial implementation of these visa questions are part of new vetting initiatives for the next 6 months, but can be extended.  Additional questions may include:
    * Social media account information, email addresses, and phone numbers of the applicant for the past 5 years;
    * All previous passport numbers;
    * Residential addresses, Employment history, and Travel history (including funding source for the travel) for the past 15 years;
    * Names of all children, siblings, and current and former spouses.

    A sample of the “Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants (DS-5535)” has been posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Turkey. 

    An unclassified copy of the State Department memo to US Embassies/Consulates can be viewed here.

    As has been recommended in previous communications from the ISO, students are advised to provide as much time as possible for U.S. Embassies/Consulates to process your visa applications, and that visa applicants should expect longer processing times at all U.S. Embassy/Consulate posts.  Further details are available on the U.S. Embassy/Consulate website where you would apply for a new visa while abroad.  

  • February 4, 2017 -- U.S. Department of State Urgent Notice: Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals       Based on U.S. District Court in the State of Washington order, the provisional revocation on visas issued to individuals from 7 countries designated in Executive Order is lifted and individual eligible to travel to the U.S. if otherwise eligible.
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Draft Executive Orders (Unofficial)

ISO is aware of a number of links to prospective Draft Executive Orders that have been widely reported in the press and verified by other sources as unofficial drafts leaked to the press. These are NOT official documents and they have NOT been enacted. Given the discussion in public forums on this document, the ISO is making the link to the document available to view actual document wording. ISO will be sure to notify MIT International Students as official documentation becomes available on any new Executive Orders that are signed and official.

*UNOFFICIAL DRAFT (released by press only - Vox.com and addressed in other media outlets) - January 23, 2017 - Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs
Draft includes reference to review of all employment visas and visa categories with employment benefits. After review, as indicated any recommended regulatory changes must go through the normal government rulemaking process - official publication of proposed rule, public comment period, review by the Office of Management and Budget, publishing of revised proposed rule, publication of final rule and implementation/effective date.

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DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

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Letters from MIT

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Other MIT Resources

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Other Resources

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