Foreign and Refugee Students


Since taking office in January 2017, the current administration has made several decisions that will impact the ability of foreign nationals to pursue higher education studies in the United States. This page aims to summarize these decisions as they are announced and provide updates as necessary.  For legal advice related to the recent immigration policy changes, please contact an immigration attorney or an accredited representative of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Travel Ban and Extreme Vetting

In 2017 President Trump announced Executive Order 13769 (January) and Executive Order 13780 (March). These orders, often referred to as “travel bans,” sought to suspend the entry of visitors of certain countries.  While court decisions prevented the executive orders from being implemented at the time, a December 2017 Supreme Court order allowed the ban to go into full effect while it hears the appeals from the lower courts. On April 25 the Court heard oral arguments in the case against the ban. Their decision is expected to be announced later this summer.

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued the “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” It reports the results of the worldwide review conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, as tasked in Executive Order 13780. The review assessed and developed a new baseline “for the kinds of information required from foreign governments to support the United States Government's ability to confirm the identity of individuals seeking entry into the United States as immigrants and nonimmigrants.” Countries that did not meet these criteria were deemed “inadequate,” and it was recommended that entry restrictions and limitations be established for nationals of these countries. The following countries were identified as “inadequate:” Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Venezuela. As a result, the Proclamation establishes varying restrictions to travel from these countries. This NAFSA resource provides a breakdown of the regulations established by country.

An exception exists for students of Iran on F, M, and J visas. NACAC encourages member institutions to seek legal counsel about what guidance they should provide to enrolled international students, particularly those from these countries.

The January 2017 Executive Order also called for what is commonly referred to as “extreme vetting.” Consequently, the U.S. Department of State announced that it would request those selected for extreme vetting to provide “all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses, phone numbers, and 15 years of biographical information when applying for a U.S. visa." Technically, this information is not required, but failing to include it may result in the delay or rejection of an application.

This version of the ban is currently being 

NACAC believes these decisions will have immediate and long-term consequences on the attractiveness of the United States as an education destination and the many U.S. high schools and colleges that serve international students. Read NACAC’s statements opposing these executive orders: January 30, 2017; March 7, 2017; October 18, 2017joint statement with other education associations.


Country Specific Updates 

  • Russia

    As of March 31, the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg is no longer providing services. Those affected are advised to contact the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for assistance. The consulates in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will continue to conduct nonimmigrant visa interviews in a limited capacity as established in December 2017.


Counseling and Admission


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