This document summarizes key immigration issues to understand and follow.
- The USCIS Unlawful Presence Memo, which made a myriad of student visa violations retroactive, was struck down by a federal court, thanks in part to a 2018 amicus brief signed by over 60 schools.
- COVID-19 travel restrictions, closures of consulates, and delayed change of status (I-539) applications mean that many new students are not sure if they will make it to class on time this fall.
- A court challenge threatens student work authorization (OPT). Over 150 schools have joined an amicusbrief. ICE has started STEM OPT site visits, and now requires more evidence of the relationship to the student’s major. USCIS is reportedly planning broad restrictions on OPT. Advocacy is needed.
- Discretionary visa denials are on the rise, especially for Middle Eastern students at airports and consulates. Searches of electronics have been limited through court action, but social media screening continues.
- The Supreme Court upheld the travel ban, and it has been expanded to other countries. There is a bill in Congress to address this.
- Court challenges are temporarily keeping discretionary programs such as DACA and TPS alive. The Supreme Court will likely rule on DACA later this month. 165 schools signed an amicus brief on DACA.
- The Dream and Promise Act has passed the House, but is not moving in the Senate.
- A “public charge” regulation took effect February 24, and is discouraging foreign nationals from accessing government programs.
- Courts have temporarily blocked an executive order requiring new immigrants to have health insurance.
Scholars and Professors
- H-1Bs are being scrutinized, particularly where the job does not require a specific degree, but litigation has helped temper this trend.
- Security checks are causing delays, especially from China, Russia, and the Middle East.
- The government may propose a rule to cause spouses of H-1B visa holders to lose their ability to work.
- There has been one Presidential Proclamation slightly limiting green card interviews abroad during COVID-19, and another is expected on temporary visas. Green cards in general seem to be stalled, except for healthcare workers.
- Address mental health consequences of immigration policy. Consider adding counseling resources to visa law presentations.
- Be ready for more scrutiny from the President’s “Extreme Vetting” and “Buy American/Hire American” executive orders. This means longer processing times for everything from student work cards to visa interviews to green cards.
- Have clear point people on campus to field questions. Many unfounded rumors exist.
- Collect campus data to support advocacy at the state (e.g., drivers licenses, NJ schools letter) and federal levels (e.g., StartUp Act to help entrepreneurs, Believe Act to reform employment-based immigration, new bill to address severe green card backlogs).
- Support continuing education and government liaison efforts of international advisers. With continued leadership changes at various agencies, immigration will likely continue to get more challenging.