NEWS IMPACTING FOREIGN STUDENTS IN THE U.S.
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
Earlier this year President Trump announced Executive Order 13769 (January 2017) and Executive Order 13780 (March 2017). 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 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, Chad, 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 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. The changes are expected to last through November 2017 but may continue after.
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, 2017; joint statement with other education associations.
Country Specific Updates
- Turkey: The U.S. Mission in Turkey has resumed processing non-immigrant visas in full.
On December 28, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the resumption of all visa services. These had been suspended in October 2017 due to strained diplomatic relations between the two countries. Applicants whose appointments were canceled due to the suspension of services are advised to visit the embassy’s website for rescheduling information as well as answers to other related issues.
- Russia: Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok to begin limited interviews for nonimmigrant visas starting December 11.
On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia announced that it will resume processing interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants on a limited capacity at the consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok. This came after the embassy had announced in August that interviews would only be held at the Moscow location starting September 1. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. said, “[the U.S. wants] Russians to travel to the United States, experience our culture firsthand, study at our universities, and do business with U.S. companies.” While the resumption of these services is a welcomed change, it is likely that Russians applying for nonimmigrant visas will continue to experience delays.
Counseling and Admission
- American School Counselors Association, for guidance on advising students through turbulent times.
- Institute of International Educators, white paper "Advising International Students in an Age of Anxiety."
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators, for a list of resources for education professionals to respond to the new rules and regulations.
- International Higher Education Consulting Blog, for a list of university/college and higher education.
- IIEPEER, a database of universities, scholarships, and organizations with resources for students attempting to study outside of Syria.
- U.S. Embassy, a fact sheet for Russians affected by the change to the visa process.
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