Foreign and Refugee Students


President Trump continues to call for a travel ban for foreign nationals coming to the United States from certain countries.  The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the ban, which has been blocked by several courts.  The case will be heard during the Supreme Court’s next session, which is scheduled for October 2017.    

In the meantime, the Supreme Court allowed a ‘limited version’ of the ban to take effect, partially lifting the injunctions set by lower courts. The Court did “make an important exception: It said the ban ‘may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States’” (Washington Post). “Bona fide” relationships may include “students accepted into US universities or employees who have accepted jobs within the US” (CNN). The Supreme Court noted in the order that the bona fide relationship must be “formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the executive order(Supreme Court decision, Page 12). For students, this may include an acceptance letter or proof of admission to a United States institution. NACAC encourages member institutions to seek legal counsel about what guidance they should provide to enrolled international students. Individuals who lack bona fide relationships will be affected by the ban. 

Please check back for updates as NACAC continues to monitor the status of immigration executive orders and relevant policy changes. 

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States" and issued a related fact sheet.  The executive order directs the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to temporarily suspend visa issuance for 90 days to individuals from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Libya seeking to enter the United States (often referred to as a “travel ban”). The order also called for the State Department to develop additional screening procedures for all foreign visitors to the United States from certain countries (sometimes referred to as “extreme vetting”). The order as written does not apply to F, M, or J visa holders whose visas were valid and effective prior to the order issuance. NACAC issued a statement opposing this executive order. 

The legal battle related to the travel ban did not affect the "extreme vetting" sections of the executive order.  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 US visa." Technically, this information is not required, but failing to do so may result in the delay or rejection of an application.  The changes are expected to last through November 2017, but may continue after.

 NACAC encourages you to speak with an immigration attorney or a Board of Immigration Appeals–accredited representative if you are working with immigrant or refugee students who are worried about their future.

The following organizations and affiliates may be useful resources for any questions you may have regarding this executive order, finding immigration lawyers, or navigating the international college admission process:

Counseling and Admission Professionals

Individuals Applying to US Institutions

  • IIEPEER, a database of universities, scholarships, and organizations with resources for students attempting to study outside of Syria

Individuals and Families Seeking Legal Resources

Relevant News

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