Washington, May 14, 2018 – On May 11, 2018, USCIS proposed a fundamental change to the way it would determine how an immigration status violation might lead to a finding that an F, M, or J nonimmigrant should be subject to the 3- or 10-year reentry bar provisions of INA 212(a)(9)(B). Under the proposed guidance, USCIS would change the way it “counts” days of unlawful presence for F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, and J-2 nonimmigrants. Under the current policy, the unlawful presence count begins only after a formal finding of a status violation by a DHS officer in the course of a benefits application, or by an immigration judge in the course of removal proceedings. Under the newly proposed policy, the unlawful presence count will begin the day after the status violation. The following is a statement from Jill Welch, Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
“This new USCIS proposed change abandons 20 years of agency interpretation, and it is clear that in an attempt to “enhance public safety” the administration seeks to further close the door on academic talent. The proposed change is operationally complex for international students and scholars and may lead to a large number being wrongly identified as failing to maintain their status. Like American students, international students should be allowed to complete their studies at their chosen institution, without the stress or fear of being deported based on some oversight of which they may not be aware.
“This is yet another policy which makes the United States less attractive to talented international students and scholars and undoubtedly will encourage them to look elsewhere to do their groundbreaking research and build diplomatic ties. This is a solution to a non-issue. International students and scholars are here to learn, and they make America safer by becoming the nation’s best ambassadors and allies. By treating all international students and scholars who mistakenly overstay their status as criminals, we will be making America a less desirable place to study and less safe. This is contrary to our nation’s values as a welcoming nation of immigrants.
“NAFSA is analyzing the numerous and serious implications of this change and is planning to submit comments. We encourage other higher education and international organizations to do so as well.”