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Updates on Immigration Changes

Below are updates from International Student and Scholars on the recent executive orders on immigration. International students and scholars who have questions about these changes should contact ISSS. For more information, please also see the website for the Immigration Response Team.

September 1: UMN Immigration Response Team Wants to Hear from International Travelers

The Immigration Response Team has created forms for international students and other travelers to share their travel experiences. These forms are voluntary, and the information will allow us to understand how the UMN community is being impacted.

July 26: USCIS Resumes Premium Processing of H-1B Applications

On July 24, 2017, USCIS announced the restoration of premium processing ($1225 fee) for higher education institutions.  University of Minnesota departments wishing to apply for a new or extension H-1B can resume requests for ISSS to process cases according to Premium Processing timelines.

After a department submits a complete H-1B application to ISSS (this means all questionnaires and all required paper documents), at this time of year ISSS takes 4 to 8 weeks to submit the H-1B petition to USCIS.  USCIS takes up to 15 days to adjudicate the case.  Thus, departments should estimate a start date for an H-1B Approval of 6 to 10 weeks from the date you submit a complete application.

June 27: Supreme Court to Hear Travel Ban: Travel Ban Will Go into Effect (with Some Exceptions)

Dear international students, scholars, and employees,

We write to update you on the announcement made yesterday by the U.S. Supreme Court in regard to the Executive Order on Immigration. The Court has reinstated aspects of the executive order including the portion banning travel to the United States by people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. When doing this, however, the court stated that this ban will NOT apply to people who have a "relationship with a person or entity in the United States" such as international students at U.S. universities and employees of U.S. companies. As such, we believe this ban should not apply to international students, scholars and employees at the University of Minnesota.

The travel ban is anticipated to go into effect on Thursday morning (June 29). The Supreme Court stated they will consider the case associated with it in October. If you want to read a detailed explanation of the Supreme Court’s announcement, please visit the Immigration Response Team’s website.

We are relieved that the Court acknowledges the importance of allowing international students, scholars, and employees to enter the United States to attend school and/or continue their professional and academic pursuits. At the same time, we know that this announcement may bring significant stress to an already challenging situation.

We want you to know that we, the staff of ISSS, are thinking of you. You (and all international students, scholars, and employees) are important and valued members of the UMN community.  If you have any questions or wish to discuss this news, please contact ISSS to meet with an adviser or counselor. We also strongly encourage students, scholars and employees from the six listed countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) to contact our office if you are planning to travel outside the United States.

May 25: Federal Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban

Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the executive order known as the "travel ban" or "Muslim ban." In their 10-3 majority decision, the court said the president's broad authority on immigration policy was not absolute, writing, "It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation."

While this is not a final decision, for now, individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen can enter the United States with valid visas. Refugees, including from Syria, will continue to be resettled, and visa applications will continue to be processed.

Because the situation remains extremely fluid, we encourage international students and scholars who are considering travel outside the United States to consult with ISSS. For more information, please see the Immigration Response Team's website.

April 20: Executive Order on H-1B Visas Signed

ISSS is and will continue to pay close attention to any effects of President Trump's 4/18/17 Executive Order "Buy American and Hire American". For the near future, we don't expect to see any substantial changes in the H-1B program for the University of Minnesota or the vast majority of H-1B employers and employees. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) characterized the executive order as follows:

"...while today's announcement reflects the administration's desire to move toward reforms to the H-1B program, there will be no immediate changes or impacts on H-1Bs. Simply put, it appears that [relevant U.S. government] agencies are asked to review policies related to all visa programs and recommend changes to root out "fraud and abuse," and to propose additional reforms so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid applicants...While the agencies are being asked to undertake a review of the H-1B program, the reality is that many of the changes contemplated by the administration will require legislative action, or at minimum, the lengthy rule-making process."

We will make announcements if and when substantial changes come into effect.

April 3: USCIS Suspends Premium Processing of H-1B Visa Applications

On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) unexpectedly announced they were suspending "Premium Processing" for all H-1B petitions for up to 6 months (effective April 3). Premium Processing is the expedited processing service under which USCIS assures adjudication of an H-1B petition within 15 calendar days of submission for an extra $1,225 fee (as opposed to the standard processing that currently takes 7-8 months).

For at least the next 6 months, this suspension will impact all NEW job offers requiring an H-1B visa. All department H-1B application requests (cases) that we already have received, and all that we receive over the next 4-6 months, will need to be triaged according to case type, job start date and first in/first out (FIFO). Learn more here

March 16: Hawaii and Maryland Courts Issue Temporary Retraining Orders

Dear international students, scholars, and employees,

Greetings! We wanted to share the positive news that federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have issued nationwide temporary restraining orders on the most recent executive order on immigration. These actions will prevent the executive order from being put into action today, as had been previously scheduled. We are closely following developments as this lawsuit makes its way through the court system, and we will provide updates as the implications become more clear. If you have questions regarding your personal travel plans, please contact us.

Please know that our thoughts are with you, and we are here to help and answer your questions.

March 6: New Executive Order Signed

Dear international students, scholars, and employees,

President Trump signed an updated executive order on immigration today. We deeply regret the enormous disruption, uncertainty, and concern that these executive orders have brought to so many in our campus community.

What does the new executive order say?

Today's updated executive order goes into effect on March 16, 2017. It states that citizens of six countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) will not be granted a visa to enter the United states for 90 days. Permanent residents, and those who already have a valid visa will be allowed to enter the United States. This executive order does not apply to individuals from Iraq, unlike the previous executive order on immigration. We continue to carefully review this executive order to understand the implications for international students, scholars, researchers, staff, and faculty, and will communicate more detailed updates on the ISSS website as soon as possible. 

Please contact us should you have questions about your future travel plans or any other concerns related to this updated order. We do want to hear how this executive order on immigration impacts you. Please contact us at isss@umn.edu, and we will direct your concerns to the appropriate University staff.

As with the previous executive order on immigration, the situation could change. As there is potential for quick developments, we encourage you to rely on ISSS and not social media for information.

You are welcome here

Keeping our campus safe and welcoming for all is a campus priority. President Kaler expressed this clearly in his State of the University address. Should you experience acts of bias, please contact ISSS or the Bias Response Referral Network directly at endbias@umn.edu.

We continue to advocate on behalf of the importance of having international students and scholars, like yourself, at the University of Minnesota. On February 27, international educators from across Minnesota met with staff of our congressional representatives to update them on the impact of the executive order on immigration and to explain the harm it brings. Our national organization for international education, NAFSA, continues to advocate on behalf of proposed legislation to overturn the executive order. Discussions are occurring on campus every day so we can understand the impact this is having on our community and how the UMN can best respond. One response, announced by President Kaler last week, is the establishment of a campus immigration response team to provide resources to assist those impacted by current national policies.

President Kaler encourages us all that: "It is during such challenging times that the University of Minnesota can and must shine."

February 10: Temporary Restraining Order Upheld by 9th District

Dear international students, scholars, and employees,

We want to keep you updated on the current status of the executive order on immigration. We are happy to report that yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District upheld an earlier judge's decision to temporarily block enforcement of the executive order on immigration. Basically, this means that key portions of the executive order cannot be enforced at this time. To be clear, this is not the final decision on the executive order and further legal action is predicted; however, for now, the following is allowed:

  • Individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen CAN enter the United States with valid visas
  • Refugees (including those from Syria) CAN come to the U.S.
  • Applications for visas to enter the U.S. WILL continue to be processed (note that recent changes now require in-person interviews)

This announcement provides some measure of relief to the upheaval that the executive order has brought to so many in our community. However, due to the evolving nature of this situation, we do still recommend caution if you are considering travel outside the U.S. and encourage you to contact ISSS with questions or concerns on how this impacts you directly.

As international educators who fundamentally and profoundly believe in the positive power of educational exchange, we close with Senator J. William Fulbright's words from the 40th anniversary of the Fulbright program:

Of all the joint ventures in which we might engage, the most productive, in my view, is educational exchange. I have always had great difficulty--since the initiation of the Fulbright scholarships in 1946--in trying to find the words that would persuasively explain that educational exchange is not merely one of those nice but marginal activities in which we engage in international affairs, but rather, from the standpoint of future world peace and order, probably the most important and potentially rewarding of our foreign-policy activities.

February 4: Temporary Restraining Order Halts Enforcement of Executive Order

Dear international students, scholars, and employees,

We are writing to give you a brief update on two positive developments regarding the executive order on immigration.

The state of Washington filed a lawsuit this week against the executive order, and it was joined by the state of Minnesota. The federal judge announced Friday night that a temporary restraining order is in place. The temporary restraining order effectively blocks the immigration order from being enforced nationwide, according to the New York Times. Additionally, "(A)irlines that had been stopping travelers from boarding planes to the U.S. were told by the government ... to begin allowing them to fly." The Trump administration can apply for an emergency stay of enforcement of that order. This ruling is temporary, putting the actions contained in the executive order on hold until all parties can make full arguments, or until the government wins a stay of enforcement.

In other important news, USCIS released this statement about applications that they are processing:

"USCIS continues to adjudicate applications and petitions filed for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country of origin, and applications and petitions of lawful permanent residents outside the U.S. USCIS also continues to adjudicate applications and petitions for individuals outside the U.S. whose approval does not directly confer travel authorization."

We have heard your concerns and understand the anxiety that this executive order has caused. More than 260 students, scholars, and employees attended the gatherings we had this week to discuss the executive order, and many more came in to talk to our advisers and counselors during Walk-In Hours and appointments. Please know we will continue to advocate on your behalf, offer support, and do our best to keep you informed when new information becomes available.

For more information about the executive order, please see the Frequently Asked Questions on the Campus Climate website.

Please stay connected to one another and share the ways this situation is impacting you. Having your friends, classmates, colleagues, and community members aware of the impact can be of significant help right now.

January 29: First Executive Orders on Immigration Signed

Dear International Students, Scholars, and Employees,

We in ISSS are profoundly troubled by the new executive order on immigration signed by President Trump late on Friday. We are reaching out to you and the rest of the international student, scholar, and employee population to tell you that we are reviewing the order and the ongoing developments to assess possible impacts and be able to provide you with the best advice. We have also reached out directly to those whose country has been specifically listed in the executive order (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen).

We encourage you to continue your studies and activities as normal, but until more is known, we caution against travel outside the U.S. for those from countries specifically listed in the executive order. For everyone else, we recommend that you consult an ISSS adviser if you have specific travel concerns. Remember that ISSS is an important resource for you, and we encourage you to contact us with questions about traveling outside of the U.S. or other visa-related issues, or if you would like to speak with a counselor about your concerns.

Be assured that the University's commitment to you and to international education has not changed, and we will challenge these negative policies. We believe that the entire campus and the Twin Cities community is a better place because you are here. 

GPS