Immigration Alerts

▼   Presidential Proclamation (September 24, 2017)

Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

Below are "highlights" taken from the Presidential Proclamation:

Sec. 2. Suspension of Entry for Nationals of Countries of Identified Concern.

The entry into the United States of nationals of the following countries is hereby suspended and limited, as follows, subject to categorical exceptions and case by-case waivers, as described in sections 3 and 6 of this proclamation:

(a)    Chad (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Chad, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is hereby suspended.

(b)    Iran (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Iran as immigrants and as nonimmigrants is hereby suspended, except that entry by such nationals under valid student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas is not suspended, although such individuals should be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.

(c)    Libya (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Libya, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is hereby suspended.

(d)   North Korea (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is hereby suspended.

(e)    Syria (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Syria as immigrants and nonimmigrants is hereby suspended.

(f)     Venezuela (ii) Notwithstanding section 3(b)(v) of this proclamation, the entry into the United States of officials of government agencies of Venezuela involved in screening and vetting procedures -- including the Ministry of the Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace; the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Immigration; the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps; the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; and the Ministry of the Popular Power for Foreign Relations -- and their immediate family members, as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is hereby suspended. Further, nationals of Venezuela who are visa holders should be subject to appropriate additional measures to ensure traveler information remains current.

(g)    Yemen (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Yemen as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is hereby suspended.

(h)   Somalia (ii) The entry into the United States of nationals of Somalia as immigrants is hereby suspended. Additionally, visa adjudications for nationals of Somalia and decisions regarding their entry as nonimmigrants should be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if applicants are connected to terrorist organizations or otherwise pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States.

 

(b) Exceptions. The suspension of entry pursuant to section 2 of this proclamation shall not apply to:

(i) any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

(ii) any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation;

(iii) any foreign national who has a document other than a visa -- such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document -- valid on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission;

(iv) any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this proclamation when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;

 (v) any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or

(vi) any foreign national who has been granted asylum by the United States; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

 

Sec. 7. Effective Dates.

Executive Order 13780 ordered a temporary pause on the entry of foreign nationals from certain foreign countries. In two cases, however, Federal courts have enjoined those restrictions. The Supreme Court has stayed those injunctions as to foreign nationals who lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, pending its review of the decisions of the lower courts.

(a) The restrictions and limitations established in section 2 of this proclamation are effective at 3:30 p.m. eastern daylight time on September 24, 2017, for foreign nationals who:

(i) were subject to entry restrictions under section 2 of Executive Order 13780, or would have been subject to the restrictions but for section 3 of that Executive Order, and

(ii) lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

(b) The restrictions and limitations established in section 2 of this proclamation are effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on October 18, 2017, for all other persons subject to this proclamation, including nationals of:

(i) Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States; and

(ii) Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

 

Sec. 5. Reports on Screening and Vetting Procedures.

(a) The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and other appropriate heads of agencies shall submit periodic reports to the President, through appropriate Assistants to the President, that:

(i) describe the steps the United States Government has taken to improve vetting for nationals of all foreign countries, including through improved collection of biometric and biographic data;

(ii) describe the scope and magnitude of fraud, errors, false information, and unverifiable claims, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security on the basis of a validation study, made in applications for immigration benefits under the immigration laws; and

(iii) evaluate the procedures related to screening and vetting established by the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs in order to enhance the safety and security of the United States and to ensure sufficient review of applications for immigration benefits.

 

For the complete Presidential Proclamation, please visit The White House Press Office or NAFSA Association of International Educators

▼   Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Announcement

On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided two-year renewable employment authorization cards and protection from deportation for 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children.  If you are a DACA beneficiary, family member or friend, here's what you need to know about the end of the program:

  • RENEWALS. If you already have DACA, and it expires ON OR BEFORE 03/05/2018, you can still renew your DACA for a two-year period if the renewal is filed before 10/05/2017. Contact a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible to make sure your renewal is filed on time.
  • VALID UNTIL EXPIRATION. If you have valid DACA status right now, it will remain valid until its expiration date.  See the face of your employment authorization card or the I-795 approval notice to determine the expiration date.
  • NOT ACCEPTING NEW DACAs. USCIS will not accept any initial DACA applications filed after 09/05/2017. USCIS will continue to process initial and renewal applications that were pending as of 09/05/2017.
  • NO ADVANCE PAROLE. Previously, DACA recipients had been eligible to apply for advance parole, or permission to depart from and return to the U.S. for educational or humanitarian reasons. USCIS will no longer grant advance parole for DACA recipients. In contrast to pending DACA applications, USCIS will not process pending advance parole applications and will be returning any filing fees.

If you are a DACA beneficiary, please contact a qualified immigration attorney for advice.

 

The University of South Alabama announcement regarding DACA:

As I know many are aware, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is currently set to end in six months.

Congress may act before then to allow young undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, but the future for immigrants who were approved for a two-year deferred deportation, and those who were eligible for the program, remains uncertain.

The University of South Alabama prides itself on being a welcoming institution supportive of all its students. We believe in a diverse community whose academic, research and health care initiatives and ambitions requires global outreach and engagement.

The uncertainty surrounding DACA does not change those principles nor the support for our students, faculty and staff. I would encourage those with questions about how the possible termination of DACA affects them to consult an immigration attorney.

Catholic Social Services has an immigration specialist who can discuss concerns and make recommendations. Stella Knight can be reached at 251-947-3878.

Campus resources are also available by calling the Office of Counseling and Testing Services at 251-460-7051, the Office of Student Affairs at 251-460-6172 or the Office of Academic Affairs at 251-460-6261.

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Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
President
University of South Alabama

▼   U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Partial Reinstatement of Travel Ban

On Monday, June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the appeal over President Donald Trump's revised travel ban against nationals from six Muslim-majority countries this fall, and granted the government's requests to reinstate part of the ban in the meantime. The latest immigration ban executive order, which the president signed on March 6, seeks to block nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. "In practical terms, this means that §2(c) 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. All other foreign nationals are subject to the provisions of EO–2," the Court wrote.

It seems that anyone with a university-sponsored F, J, H, O visa should not be affected by this reinstatement. However, we continue to caution against any travel outside the U.S. for current international students and scholars at the University of South Alabama from those six countries until SCOTUS has made a decision. We will continue to monitor this as it unfolds and update you with any information we may receive.

Again, we are proud to have you at our institution and glad you have chosen to study, work, and/or research at our institution. #We Are South #You Are Welcome Here!

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) info sheet can be found by visiting the Department of Homeland Security.

Updates to actions on this Executive Order can be found at NAFSA Association of International Educators.

▼   OPT Cap-Gap Extensions and Private Sector H-1Bs

A cap-gap extension automatically extends an eligible F-1 student’s status to bridge the gap between the end of OPT (F-1 status) and start of H-1B status. This extension allows a student to remain in the US and continue working during the “gap.”

The cap-gap extension is available to students who, as of April 1, were either on approved OPT or in their 60-day grace period and have a pending or approved change-of-status H-1B petition with USCIS with an October 1 start date.

This cap-gap extension will produce one of two outcomes depending on your individual situation:

Scenario 1: Extension of your OPT work authorization to September 30. This happens if your approved OPT end date (on your EAD card) is April 1 or later.

OR

Scenario 2: Extension of your F-1 “duration of status.” If your OPT employment authorization expires before April 1 but your 60-day grace period ends after April 1, you are allowed to stay in the U.S., if you otherwise maintain your F-1 status.  Please note: this is just an extension of your status, but you are not authorized to work until the H-1B petition is approved and goes into effect October 1.

Who is eligible for the extension?

Students in all fields of study are eligible for the cap-gap extension as long as the student has not violated the terms or conditions of their F-1 status. To qualify for the extension, the student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

1. Has been timely filed (within the acceptance period – after April 1, but before either the OPT period or 60-day grace period expires)
2. Requests an employment start date of October 1
3. Requests a change-of-status (rather than consular processing)

How do I apply for the cap-gap Extension?

There is no application process for the cap-gap extension. If your H-1B petition has been approved by USCIS, your SEVIS record will automatically be updated to reflect the cap-gap extension and your work authorization will be extended to September 30. However, because of the huge number of applications USCIS receives, it is not likely that a case will be either receipted or adjudicated quickly after April 1.

The Office of Immigration and International Admissions can prepare cap-gap extensions at three different steps as allowed by USCIS and SEVP:

1. When your H-1B case has been filed and you can provide Immigration and International Admissions with proof of the submission (i.e. delivery confirmation), we can update the SEVIS system to extend your OPT only to June 1. (Please note that if your OPT already is valid through June 1, there is nothing to be done at this stage).
2.  When you get wait-listed by USCIS and you can provide Immigration and International Admissions with evidence of the wait-listing, we can then extend under cap-gap rules again to July 28. (Please note that if your OPT already is valid through July 28 or later, there is nothing to be done at this stage).
3.  Finally, when you get an official receipt notice for your H-1B case, we can process the full cap-gap extension until September 30.

To obtain a cap-gap I-20 from the Office of Immigration and International Admissions, please send an email to immigration@southalabama.edu with “Cap-Gap Extension” in the subject line. Include the following in the email:

• Full Name
• SEVIS number
• Jag ID number
• Employment start and end date as indicated on your current EAD Card
• Proof of filing (for an extension to June 1), or proof of wait-listing (for an extension to July 28), or scanned copy of I-797 H-1B approval and/or receipt notice (for an extension until September 30)
• Indicate whether you would like to pick up your document or have it mailed to you. We can ship documents to you through an express mail service provided by University Express Mail Services (UEMS) to deliver documents through DHL or FedEx in 3-5 days. Requesting your document delivery through UEMS is at your expense. Your credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover cards only) will be charged when requesting the service from UEMS. Otherwise, documents will be sent through regular US Postal Services "snail" mail.

What happens if my H-1B is denied after receiving the cap-gap extension?

If the student’s H-1B sponsorship is denied or withdrawn, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice to depart the U.S. However, if a denial is based on a discovered status violation, no such grace period exists and the student should leave the U.S. immediately.

What if my OPT expires before April 1st? Will the cap-gap extension extend my OPT?

If your OPT employment authorization expires before April 1, but your 60-day grace period extends beyond April 1, your F-1 status will be extended.  Although your F-1 status would be extended, your OPT employment period is expired, and the cap-gap does not serve to reinstate or retroactively grant employment authorization.

You would be required to stop working until October 1. Also, keep in mind that the 90-day unemployment rule remains in full effect during your automatically extended work authorization (if you qualify for extension of work authorization.)

INFORMATION RESOURCES

Cap Gap Fact Sheet from the Department of Homeland Security

F-1 On-Campus and Off-Campus Employment

▼   U.S. Presidential Executive Order (January 27, 2017)

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals. Under Section 3(c) of that Executive Order, entry into the United States of "immigrants and nonimmigrants" from 7 countries has been suspended for 90 days from the date the Executive Order was signed, "except for those traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas." The countries listed in the Executive Order are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This order relates to visa issuance, screening procedures, entry into the U.S., and refugees from these countries.

With this Executive Order, we strongly advise all nonimmigrants (F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc.) and immigrants (Permanent Resident “green card” holders) from these countries to avoid travel outside the U.S. at this time. If you are from one of these countries and must exit the U.S., we encourage you to seek legal guidance before travel. There is currently no indication that your visa status is being questioned while you remain in the United States. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide additional details and information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please contact our office with specific inquiries or urgent travel issues.

You are a valued member of the University of South Alabama community and family. South Alabama remains committed to supporting your success. We advise that you continue your studies and employment at USA with the same dedication you have always shown. You are welcome here. We are South!

For more information, we recommend the following sources: