In April of this year,  US President Donald Trump had blamed U.S. colleges themselves for their inability to attract and enroll more international students.  However, beginning August 9, a new policy initiated by his administration effectively discourages international students from studying in the U.S.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised a policy memorandum providing guidance regarding the unlawful presence of student (F visas), exchange visitor (J visas), vocational student (M visas) as well as their dependents residing in the United States.

What is An Unlawful Presence?

Unlawful presence is when an individual stays in the United States more than 180 days in a single stay in the U.S.  Once an individual who is unlawful present gets caught, he or she will be penalized for up to 10 years before applying readmittance to the U.S.

The Penalty for Unlawful Presence

According to the USCIS:

Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled are permanently inadmissible.

New Policy Lacks Clarity

Many, including higher education experts and NAFSA, are concerned about this new policy.    Some say this new policy discourages international students from coming to the US because of the potential for severe punishment.  Furthermore, NAFSA asserts that this policy will adversely impact the other agencies including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  Agency, and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

Full Copy of Latest Policy Memorandum

To view the full context of USCIS latest memorandum regarding the unlawful presence of students with F, J, or M visa, please click HERE.  Please be aware that many U.S. colleges may not tell you this new policy before you arrive the U.S. or during your orientation.  It is, therefore, up to a student to understand this policy and its’ potential ramifications impacting student visa status.


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