Massachusetts Institute of Technology

International Scholars Office

  • ISchO Home
  • ISchO Staff
  • International Scholars
  • MIT Administrators
  • IScho News
  • Contact Us

ISchO News

 

October 10, 2017

Presentation for Postdocs on Immigration Options for Post-MIT Employment

Download the slides from the presentation, held on October 5, 2017.

You must have an MIT computer certifiate to download the slides.

back to top

 

October 26, 2017

Newcomer's Almanac: A Newsletter for Newcomers to the United States

The Newcomer's Almanac is a publication of the Interchange Institute and is brought to you each month compliments of the International Scholars Office. You must have an MIT certificate to access the newsletter.

September edition - topics include: Background to Today's News; the Jewish High Holy Days; and Vocabulary for the First Day of School.

October edition - topics include: Sports and the National Anthem; Halloween; and 7 Ways to Help Your Child Learn English.

November edition - topics include: "Gerrymandering"; Thanksgiving; the Rules of American Footbal; and Guns in the US.

back to top

 

ISchO communications about the Travel Ban (September 24, 2017 Proclamation and March 6, 2017 Executive Order)

November 15, 2017

On November 13, 2017 a federal appeals court reinstated part of the travel ban, ruling that the government can bar entry to nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who lack ties to the United States.

The appeals court upheld the prior ruling blocking implementation of the travel ban for nationals from these countries who have a "bona fide relationship" with close family or an entity (such as a company or a university) in the United States.

October 18, 2017

On October 17, 2017, a federal judge blocked 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. The judge’s ruling blocks implementation of the ban on nationals from all but two countries (North Korea and Venezuela). We anticipate that US 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 update you 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 Scholars Office or MIT International Students 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.

October 16, 2017

Questions and Answers about the Presidential Proclamation of September 24, 2017

September 28, 2017

Presidential 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.

Read the Proclamation

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

 

September 26, 2017

The White House issued a new Presidential Proclamation on September 24, 2017 that revises the March 6, 2017 travel ban that was put into place by Executive Order.

You may read the Proclamation on the White House website.

A detailed summary by an immigration attorney can also be found at http://blog.ilw.com/gregsiskind/2017/09/24/siskind-summary-september-24-2017-proclamation-expanding-the-travel-ban/.

The MIT Office of the General Counsel is drafting its own summary, which will be posted here shortly.

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) is also drafting a Question & Answer information sheet, which will be posted here as soon as possible.

 

June 30, 2017

Department of State Announcement about the Executive Order and Supreme Court ruling - posted 6/29/2017

Department of Homeland Security's "Frequently Asked Questions" about the Executive Order and Supreme Court ruling - posted 6/29/2017

 

June 29, 2017

June 26 Supreme Court Ruling about the Travel Ban

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision with two rulings:

1. It will hear the Trump Administration’s appeal of two court orders blocking enforcement of the March 6 Executive Order suspending entry to the U.S. of nationals from six countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) in fall 2017.

2. It will allow the Administration to enforce the EO’s 90-day ban on nationals from these countries from entering the U.S. However, the Court narrowed the scope of the ban to apply to only those who do not have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.”

Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicate that the 90-day ban will be implemented on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 8:00pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

The MIT Office of General Counsel will release a summary for the MIT community soon. When it is available, it will be posted here.

What the Supreme Court Decision Means

As of Thursday, June 29, and for a period of 90 days, only foreign nationals of the six countries who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. can seek entry into the U.S. All other nationals from those countries will be subject to the travel ban.

Nationals from the six designated countries can seek entry into the U.S. if they have a close family relationship with a “U.S. person” such as a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, or if they have a formal, documented relationship with an U.S. entity (such as MIT) and such relationship was formed in the ordinary course.

  • The Supreme Court makes clear that students admitted to a U.S. university, workers who have accepted offers of employment from a U.S. employer or a lecturer invited to address an American audience have such “relationships” with U.S. entities.
     
  • Current and future international scholars coming or returning to MIT to conduct research, teach and/or observe, are given invitations and/or offers of appointment or employment and appropriate immigration documents. We are hopeful that U.S. government agencies will recognize these as proof of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity. See the list of documents at the bottom of this message.

The Executive Order and Supreme Court Decision do not:

  • Revoke currently valid U.S. entry visas
  • Affect the immigration status of people already in the U.S.

The Executive Order and Supreme Court Decision do not apply to:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Permanent residents of the U.S. (“green card” holders)
  • Any dual national/dual citizen who travels on a passport issued by a country other than one of the six listed above
  • Any foreign national from one of the six countries who has been lawfully admitted or paroled into the U.S., such as those with Advanced Parole documents (I-131)

Additional Reminders for Visa Applicants

Scholars from the six countries who have questions about planned travel should consult with an advisor in the ISchO.

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) is closely monitoring developments and will keep you informed of any changes or updates as soon as they become available. Updates will be posted here.

List of Documents

Below is a general description of “official documents” needed by MIT international scholars for entry to the U.S. and which should serve as proof of a bona fide “relationship” with MIT. International Scholars should always read our travel advisory (link above) and consult with the ISchO before traveling or applying for a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate to determine if additional documentation will be required in their individual cases. Family members should carry their corresponding derivative status documents (J-2, H-4, TD, O-3, F-2, etc.). Regarding family members from the six countries seeking entry in B-2 tourist status, please see the note at the end of this announcement.

  • J-1 Scholars: Signed Form DS-2019; cover memo from the ISchO (for new J-1 scholars); invitation, offer or confirmation of appointment letter from your MIT Department, Lab or Center; passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of planned entry/return to the U.S. containing a valid J-1 entry visa stamp.

  • H-1B or O-1: Form I-797 Approval Notice; invitation, offer or confirmation of employment letter from your Department, Lab, or Center; recent pay statements from MIT (if applicable); passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of planned entry/return to the U.S. containing a valid H-1B or O-1 entry visa.

  • TN (Canada and Mexico): MIT offer or employment letter; diploma; recent pay statements from MIT (if applicable) passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of planned entry/return to the U.S.; valid TN entry visa (Mexican citizens only).

  • F-1 OPT/STEM OPT: Please consult with your F-1 sponsoring institution for advice on what documents you may need in addition to Form I-20 bearing the OPT authorization, EAD work authorization card and letter of employment.
     
  • B-1/B-2: It is unclear, based on the guidance released Thursday, June 29 whether B visas will be granted during the 90 day ban period. Please continue to monitor the ISchO web page for updates and clarification in the coming days. We also recommend consulting the U.S. Consulate website for further information and guidance.

Individuals whose visas are sponsored by other employers or by the Fulbright Commission should consult their visa sponsors for advice on travel and immigration documents.

 

June 12, 2017

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) preventing implementation of the entry ban on individuals entering the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as all refugees.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the lower court’s 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.

This means that, as of now, the entry ban is not being enforced. Foreign nationals from the six countries listed above are still eligible to apply for visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad and enter the U.S. as long as they are otherwise admissible.

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

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

In the meantime, we continue to encourage scholars from the six designated countries to consult with the International Scholars Office before making plans to travel outside the U.S.

 

March 17, 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 US 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 US.

 

March 7, 2017

On Monday, March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order suspending entry to the US of nationals of six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for a period of 90 days. Iraq is not included in the list of countries to which the suspension applies.

The new Executive Order replaces and revokes the January 27 Executive Order. Below is a summary of key points:

The new Executive Order does not:

  • Revoke currently valid US entry visas.
  • Affect the immigration status of people already in the US.

The new Executive Order does not apply to:

  • Any dual national/dual citizen who travels on a passport issued by a country other than the six listed in the Order.
  • Individuals who have already been granted lawful permanent residence in the US.
  • Citizens of the US.
  • Any foreign national from one of these six countries who has been lawfully admitted or paroled into the US.

The new Order does apply to nationals of these countries who:

  • Are outside the US.
  • Did not have valid visas on January 27, 2017 (the date of the first Order)
  • Do not have a valid visa as of March 6, 2017

The Executive Order allows for waivers on a case-by-case basis if the denial of entry would cause an individual undue hardship, and their entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest. The administration has not yet detailed a process for seeking a waiver, but the International Scholars Office will be monitoring the situation for developments.

The International Scholars Office advises scholars at MIT from these six countries to refrain from traveling, if possible, for the next 90 days. Scholars concerned about future travel plans should consult an advisor in the International Scholars Office.

To read the full Executive Order, please follow this link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.

To read the accompanying Department of Homeland Security “Fact Sheet,” follow link to https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/03/06/fact-sheet-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states.

The memorandum for the US Secretary of State can be seen here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/memorandum-secretary-state-attorney-general-secretary-homeland-security.

The International Scholars Office remains committed to assisting those within the MIT community affected by this Executive Order. Anyone with questions or concerns should feel free to contact the International Scholars Office at (617) 253-2851 or by email at ischo@mit.edu.

back to top

 

Information and Resources for Scholars Affected by the Travel Ban

ISchO Travel Advisory

web.mit.edu/scholars/intlscholars/travel/advisory.html

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Executive Order Travel Ban: NAFSA Resources - Resources are being added as the situation develops and currently include:

  • FAQ on Immigration Benefits and the Executive Order
  • Travel Advisory for Nationals of Certain Countries Pursuant to Executive Order

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)

Download AILA's flyers: "Know Your Rights" if ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Visits a Home, Employer, or Pubic Space

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU has a web page with tips about what your rights are if you are stopped by the police or questioned about your immigration status.

MIT MyLife Services

A free and confidential counseling and work-life resource benefit available to provide support, guidance, and resources to all faculty, staff, postdocs and family members. MyLife Services can help you and your family members with:

  • Phone and in-person counseling for stress and emotional concerns
  • A 30-minute legal consultation with an attorney, by phone, who is familiar with immigration law
  • Massachusetts and national immigration resources

MyLife Services is available 24/7. To reach MIT MyLife Services, call 844-405-LIFE (5433) any time or email info@MITMyLifeServices.com.

back to top

November 14, 2017

Limited Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Resumes in Turkey

Effective November 6, 2017 US Consulates in Turkey have resumed processing nonimmigrant visas on a limited basis.

View the announcement and details regarding the re-opening of limited visa services on the website of the US Embassy in Turkey.

October 10, 2017

Suspension of Visa Services in Turkey

To our international scholars from Turkey:

You may have seen the reports in the news regarding the suspension of visa services at US Consulates in Turkey.

We have just viewed a video and a written statement posted by Ambassador John Bass, US Ambassador to Turkey, regarding the suspension of US visa services in Turkey. The following outlines the scope of the suspension:

(1) The suspension applies to “consideration of new visa applications” at US Embassy/Consulates in Turkey.

(2) The suspension of visa services “is not a visa ban on Turkish citizens." Individuals who hold currently valid US visas in their passports are eligible to continue to travel and enter the US within the validity dates for the appropriate visa status.

(3) Turkish nationals are eligible to apply for a new visa at a US Consulate outside of Turkey during this time.

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

Turkey has also similarly suspended visa services to US Citizens seeking visas to Turkey.

We will be sure to update you when/if additional information is provided by the US 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 an advisor in the International Scholars Office ischo@mit.edu or call (617) 253-2851.

Sincerely,
The International Scholars Office

August 23, 2017

Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Processing in Russia

On August 21, 2017, the US Department of State announced that it is suspending nonimmigrant visa operations in Russia from August 23 to August 31, due to the Russian government-imposed cap on US diplomatic personnel in Russia. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will resume but will be conducted only at the US Embassy in Moscow. Please see the US Department of State’s Fact Sheet for more information.

Anyone with plans to travel to Russia who is in need of a new US entry visa should contact the International Scholars Office as soon as possible.

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

July 27, 2017

Premium Processing of H-1B Petitions Restored

As you have likely heard, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed Premium Processing of H-1B petitions for cap-exempt employers such as MIT effective July 24, 2017. USCIS announcement

International scholars anticipating future employment or changes of immigration status will be pleased that this option is once again available. However, please note that Premium Processing only speeds up processing of H-1B petitions once they arrive at USCIS. It does not speed processing of the Department of Labor steps required before an H-1B petition can be filed.

International scholars anticipating H-1B employment in the future at MIT or elsewhere should remember that advance planning is key to getting an H-1B petition filed in a timely way.

June 14, 2017

Travel and Immigration Updates

Additional form may be required for visa applications

The U.S. Department of State has received approval of a new visa application supplement, (Form DS-5535) that a U.S. Consular officer, at his/her discretion, may require visa applicants to complete. The new form contains 15 supplemental questions about an applicant’s address and employment history for the past 15 years, all social media names or nicknames, travel history, names and birth dates of all siblings and children, and other questions. The stated purpose of the proposed form is to collect additional information from visa applicants who warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities. Recent anecdotal reports indicate that the form is now in use and has been required from applicants not limited to the six majority Muslim countries previously mentioned. Foreign nationals applying to “renew” U.S. visas have also been required to complete the form. More information

The permanent residence process will take longer for MIT faculty from India and China: Oversubscription of employment-based “green card” categories

This fiscal year, the number of applications for employment-based permanent residence for citizens of China and India has exceeded the annual statutory limit. This means that MIT may continue to file the initial, employment-based part of the permanent residence process for employees from these countries. However, employees and their family members cannot yet file the final and personal step in the process, known as “adjustment of status,” which leads to the issuance of the actual permanent residence/green card. At the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2017 more immigrant visas will become available. First preference dates are likely to become “current” again, but will likely remain backlogged for China and India in the second preference category.

H-1B premium processing suspension

As previously announced, on April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended the expeditious processing of H-1B applications, known as “premium processing,” for up to six months. MIT applications submitted in haste prior to the April 3 deadline have been approved. However, MIT has had to adjust the start dates of some incoming faculty and researchers whose offers were made too late to meet the deadline.

Based on recently received approvals in the International Scholars Office over the two months since April 3, USCIS appears to be making progress in processing applications and reducing its backlog of “standard processing” cases.

back to top

April 28, 2017

President Trump Clarifies Position on NAFTA Free Trade Agreement

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017 President Trump clarified that he does not intend to withdraw the U.S. from the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement, but instead intends to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The immigration status of MIT international scholars from Canada or Mexico in TN status is unaffected by this announcement on Wednesday. Until/unless a future agreement contains revisions to the terms of admission and employment of Canadian and Mexican citizens, their ability to work remains unchanged.

back to top

April 24, 2017

New Executive Order - "Buy American and Hire American"

On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order called “Buy American and Hire American.” In the “Hire American” portion of the Order, the President directs government agencies such as the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and others to review laws governing the H-1B visa (worker in specialty occupation) and to take measures related to compliance, investigating fraud and protecting US workers. The rule also suggests changes may be made in the future to grant H-1B visa priority to foreign workers in the most highly skilled and paid positions.

If you are in the US in H-1B status, the Executive Order will not impact your current status.

The Order does not change current H-1B regulations, policies or practices. However, in the future it is possible that the required qualifications for H-1B eligibility may be raised. It takes time to issue laws and regulations and they must be published with an opportunity for public comment. MIT requirements for H-1B sponsorship are already high (above that required by law). The International Scholars Office will keep scholars informed if/when such regulations are anticipated to change.

This Executive Order is unrelated to the suspension of H-1B premium processing.

Full text of the Executive Order

back to top

April 24, 2017

Update about F-1 OPT STEM Extensions

On April 19, 2017, the Washington D.C. District Court dismissed Washington Alliance of Technology Workers’ June 17, 2016 lawsuit regarding extensions of Post Completion Practical Training for foreign students who graduate from US universities in STEM fields (STEM OPT). STEM OPT is therefore preserved and remains available to graduates who qualify.

Click here for a summary.

Click here to view the court decision.

back to top

March 30, 2017

Increased Vetting of Visa Applications at U.S. Consulates

Citizens of China, India, and other countries, including those listed below, coming to the U.S. to study or conduct research in certain fields, are already required to undergo security background checks before U.S. entry visas are granted. The circumstances under which consular officers are required to request more rigorous checks have now been expanded, as described below.

Enhanced Screening of Visa Applications

At the direction of President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has instructed U.S. consular posts to enhance the screening and vetting of all visa applications. This is effective immediately and may impact you and your family members when you travel outside the U.S., if you need to renew your U.S. entry visas. The vetting instructions apply to all visa applications, even business visas for visits of short duration, tourist visas, and accompanying family visas.

U.S. consular officers already have a great deal of discretion to ask questions to determine the intent of the visa applicant, protect the U.S. national interest, order security background checks, also known as Security Advisory Opinions (SAO) or “additional administrative processing,” and approve or deny applications. In his recent cable to U.S. consular posts, Secretary Tillerson instructs consular officers to request higher levels of Security Advisory Opinions when they feel it is warranted. Applicants should be prepared to answer a broader range of questions, if asked, which could include:

  • The applicant’s travel history over the last 15 years;
  • The names of any siblings/children/former spouses not recorded in the DS-160/260 or NIV/IVO case notes;
  • The applicant’s address during the last 15 years, if different from the applicant’s current address;
  • The applicant’s prior passport numbers;
  • The applicant’s prior occupation(s) and employers (plus a brief description of the position(s) held, if applicable) looking back 15 years;
  • All phone numbers used by the applicant in the last five years;
  • All email addresses and social media handles used by the applicant in the last five years.

Mandatory Enhanced Screening for Nationals of Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, and Libya

U.S. consular officers are now required to request a higher level of Security Advisory Opinion for applicants ages 16-65, holding passports from Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, and Libya. The officers must ask the additional questions listed above regarding travel, address history, etc. If consular officers determine that nationals of any of these six countries were ever present in territories controlled by ISIS, the officers must also conduct social media checks.

Increased Screening for Citizens of Iraq

Iraqi visa applicants will be questioned to determine whether they were ever present in territories controlled by ISIS. If so, the attending consular officers must request higher level Security Advisory Opinions.

Mandatory Review of Immigrant Visa Issuance (for U.S. Permanent Residence/Green card) for Citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen

Consular managers are now required to conduct reviews of all immigrant visa issuances for nationals from these seven countries.

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) cannot predict the impact of these new instructions on consular services. However, it would be logical to assume that visa processing times will be longer for individuals who require higher level Security Advisory Opinions and that the overall increase in SAO requests could also increase wait times for lower level security checks and visa issuance.

Visa Interviews

We want to remind individuals applying for a new visa at a U.S. embassy/consulate abroad that all applicants are required to have an in-person visa interview with the U.S. consulate (except applicants for diplomatic visas). Under a past Visa Interview Waiver Program, individuals applying at certain U.S. consulates did not need a visa interview to apply for a new visa in the same category. Now that all applicants must be interviewed, it may take longer to get a visa appointment at the consulate and visa processing may take longer. Scholars should plan well in advance in consideration of this change.

back to top

 

March 24, 2017

Recent Government Agency Actions

Restrictions for Carry-On Electronic Devices on US-Bound Flights Departing from Certain Airports

On March 21, 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted on its news webpage an announcement (“Q&A: Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States”) stating that new security measures will be implemented on for passengers traveling from certain airports to the US. Under the new guidance, “all passengers flying through and from these locations (to the US) 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. The DHS statement does not rule out adding additional airports to the current list of 10 airports.

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

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

View the full announcement/Q&A

Please note that the United Kingdom has implemented similar restrictions for carry-on electronic devices for flights to the UK from the following countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.

Please be sure to check with your airlines to verify any policies and procedures regarding these new directives.

Two Federal Courts Issue Temporary Restraining Orders on Second Executive Order/Travel Ban

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 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 US.

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

To view a copy of the US District Court for the District of Maryland Memorandum Opinion, click here; and to view the Order granting a preliminary injunction, click here.

Travel Reminder

Please carefully review the ISchO’s Travel Advisory before you travel.

If you have any questions about your visa documentation and/or what documents to carry with you when you travel, please contact the ISchO at ischo@mit.edu or 617-253-2851. You are also welcome to make an appointment with an advisor to discuss your situation.

Please continue to monitor this website. We will provide additional updates as they become available.

back to top

 

50 Ames St, Room E18-209, Cambridge, MA 02142 | Telephone: (617) 253-2851 | Fax: (617) 253-6624 | E-mail: ischo@mit.edu