Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates & Resources
For additional international student and scholar resources visit: Fragomen Worldwide immigration law firm (which lists travel advisories around the world), current emergency alerts posted by DOS and CDC situation summary, and the WHO. WMU International students and scholars may contact WMU International Admissions and Services for further information on travel delays, deferment, and recent Homeland Security guidance.
Federal District Courts Enjoins USCIS from Enforcing Unlawful Presence Rules for Students and Exchange Visitors
2/25/2020 A federal district judge has issued a permanent injunction to prevent USCIS from implementing a policy that would have penalized students in F, J and M status for status violations starting on the day after the violation occurred. The agency must continue to follow its previous, longstanding guidance related to unlawful presence, under which F, J and M nonimmigrants are penalized only after USCIS or an immigration judge makes a specific finding of a status violation. The government is expected to appeal the court's decision. For more information, visit the Fragomen website.
United States: Supreme Court Allows Public Charge Rule to Apply
2/25/2020 DHS's new public charge regulation is set to take effect on February 24, 2020. Adjustment of status applicants will be required to provide detailed financial and credit documentation to support their applications. Nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status will be required to disclose certain public benefits they receive or are certified to receive on or after February 24, 2020. For more information, please visit the Fragomen website here and here.
Coronavirus Update: U.S. Imposes Travel Restrictions and Quarantines on Individuals Traveling from China
2/03/2020 Restrictions to take effect on Sunday, February 2. Foreign nationals who have visited China within 14 days will be denied entry, with limited exceptions. U.S. citizens who have visited China's Hubei Province within 14 days will face mandatory quarantine. For further information regarding this presidential proclamation and read about exemptions, please visit the Fragomen Website. Additionally, WMU News posted that WMU is following the CDC's recommendation to avoid non-essential travel to China. WMU travel to China is prohibited, effective immediately and until further notice. The university is also encouraging faculty, staff, and students to avoid personal travel to China at this time. WMU will follow CDC and Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services guidance for containing the spread of the respiratory illness.
1/31/2020 The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus outbreak a Global Health Emergency. Currently, the Department of State (DoS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have raised travel advisory levels for all of China. WMU Sindecuse Health Center has additional resources on their website. WMU International students and scholars may contact WMU International Admissions and Services for further information on travel delays, deferment, and recent Homeland Security guidance.
Federal District Court Blocks Enforcement of DHS Public Charge Regulation
10/11/2019 A federal district court has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing a regulation that sought to apply strict new standards for determining whether a foreign national could be considered a "public charge". For further information, please visit the Fragomen Website to read the full article.
Beware of Common Scams
9/25/2019 Be careful of common scams. USCIS has a dedicated portion of their website that describes various scams such false calls regarding winning the visa lottery or requiring money to be sent to USCIS. Please visit the common scam section of USCIS and familiarize yourself to be safe. Also, the IRS has a dedication website to discuss IRS scams, as well.
Reminder to International Community That Marijuana Remains an Illegal Drug Under Federal Law
5/8/2019 International students, scholars, exchange visitors, dependents, permanent residents, or anyone with immigrant or nonimmigrant status should avoid marijuana use, possession and all association with it because despite laws in Michigan, it remains illegal as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under U.S. Federal Law and may lead to negative immigration consequences. Even using marijuana medically, growing marijuana, and working in the marijuana industry may lead to negative immigration consequences.
Violations of federal law, such as marijuana use and possession, can adversely affect your immigration status, your ability to obtain or renew a visa, your ability to enter or re-enter the United States, and your ability to apply for U.S. permanent residency or citizenship.
Please also be reminded that marijuana in all its forms is prohibited on Western Michigan University's campus.
Related policies for students can be found in the Student Code of Conduct, Section B.6.
Related policies for faculty and staff can be found in the Employee Handbook, Section 8.
Additional links and information can be found here:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services link: USCIS Policy Guidance
U.S. Customs and Border Protection link: CBP Statement
Inadmissibility bar: 8 USC 1182: Inadmissibility
USCIS Temporarily Blocked from Enforcing New Unlawful Presence Rules for Students and Exchange Visitors
5/6/2019 USCIS has been temporarily blocked from enforcing a new policy that penalizes F, J, and M visaholders who violate the terms of their nonimmigrant status.
On Friday, May 3, 2019, a federal court order temporarily blocked USCIS from enforcing the unlawful presence memo dated August 9, 2018 which had imposed unlawful presence and bars on F and J students and exchanges visitors who had status violations.
For further information, please visit the Fragomen Website to read the full article.
USCIS Revises Unlawful Presence rule for Students and Exchange Visitors
8/8/2018 Reminder! Starting August 9, USCIS will revise how it calculates the accrual of unlawful presence for students and exchange students who fail to maintain their F, J, or M nonimmigrant status in the United States. Students and their dependents will automatically accrue unlawful presence upon certain triggering events: on the day after completion of their course of study and applicable grace period; the day after their SEVIS record is terminated. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence and then depart will be subject to a three-year bar from returning to the United States. Those who have accrued more than 365 days are subject to a ten-year bar. Remember, if you have successfully completed your program and earned your grace period, the starting date for this will begin the day after your grace period ends. If your record is terminated, be sure to see your immigration advisor immediately to discuss your options as your unlawful presence begins on the day your record is terminated. For more information and further clarification, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website. The USCIS policy memorandum dated August 9, 2018 regarding unlawful presence can be read here.
Practical Training Advisory for CPT and OPT
08/06/2018 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) advisor: Please be advised that the current interpretation under the current administration is that Curricular Practical Training is curricular, required by everyone in the program, or for credit integral to the curriculum. Also, Homeland Security states that cooperative agreements are required to be in place to support CPT between the school and the training sites.
Further, Homeland Security is requesting to see evidence that CPT is curricular and integral to the curriculum. This can by shown by the curriculum description, Registrar records, or course descriptions showing that the course has a training or practicum component. In any case, CPT is training that is required for the degree program, or for credit integral to the program curriculum.
The current CPT application reflects this interpretation. Most departments and colleges at WMU already have some type of internship or practicum course(s) as part of the curriculum which support CPT for international students. It is advised that departments which do not have any training or internship component to their programs may want to consider creating courses for credit to support a practical training experience as an integral part of the curriculum for credit towards graduation.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) advisory: For students who are in programs which offer no training or internship component integral to the curriculum, a different option is Optional Practical Training which is optional. Students may apply for OPT either pre-completion (before graduation) or post-completion (after graduation). Students are still required to maintain full-time enrollment during mandatory semesters, per the federal regulations. Use of pre-completion OPT will deduct against the total 12-month limit of post-completion OPT. If pre-completion OPT is done during a mandatory semester, students are limited to 20 hours training per week. Also, the government filing fee for OPT applications is currently $410 and takes about 90 days for adjudication by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
New Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765
07/18/2018 USCIS announced that the new I-765 (effective 5/31/2018) must be used for any employment authorization filings. If you are using the I-765, be sure to use the correct form by looking for the 5/31/2018 date on the bottom left of the application. Failure to use this updated form, will result in your application being denied. You can find the new form on the USCIS website.
New Visa Service Fee Structure
07/11/2018 Effective July 1, 2018, a new fee structure will be implemented for the below referenced services provided by the WMU Haenicke Institute for Global Education Immigration Compliance office. These fees will help provide continuation of service and support.
Travel Restrictions Remain for Certain Countries
06/29/2018 In U.S. immigration news this week, the Supreme Court held that President Trump acted within his authority when he imposed travel restrictions on certain nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Nationals of the restricted countries remain subject to travel limitations, unless otherwise exempt or granted a waiver. For more information and further clarification, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
USCIS Revises Unlawful Presence rule for Students and Exchange Visitors
05/11/2018 Starting August 9, 2018, USCIS will revise how it calculates the accrual of unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors who fail to maintain their F, J or M nonimmigrant status in the United States. Students and their dependents will automatically accrue unlawful presence upon certain triggering events such as failure to complete their course of study or engaging in unauthorized activities. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence and then depart are subject to a three-year bar to returning to the U.S. and those who have accrued more than 365 days are subject to a ten-year bar. For more information and further clarification, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
Introducing a new SEVP Portal for Post-Completion OPT Reporting
03/21/2018 On March 23, 2018, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will launch the SEVP Portal. The portal is a tool that F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT). If you are currently on OPT, you will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account on the evening of March 23, 2018. This email will come from email@example.com. If you do not see the email, check your spam or junk mail folder. If you still do not see it, contact your designated school official (DSO) to have the email sent again. If you have a future OPT start date, you will receive that email on your OPT start date.
For students on OPT, you may submit your employer information through the SEVP portal or through the paper Data Validation form, as normal. For students on STEM OPT, you must still complete a paper Data Validation form for updates to your employment record. A comprehensive SEVP Portal Help Hub is available on the Study in the States website.
Resources for DACA Students
Although WMU Immigration Compliance cannot advise DACA students on their personal immigration matters, as it is outside our scope, there are outside resources in the community. You may find the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) website to be helpful.
Supreme Court Allows Trump to Enforce Travel Ban Until Lower Courts Rule on Challenges
12/5/2017 The Supreme Court has issued an order that will allow the Trump Administration to fully enforce its travel restrictions on certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, pursuant to a presidential proclamation that was issued on September 24, 2017. For all updates, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
Ninth Circuit Allows Partial Enforcement of Latest Travel Ban
11/15/2017 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued an order that will allow the Trump Administration to temporarily enforce travel restrictions against certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, but will exempt travelers with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States. For all updates, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
Important News: US-Turkey Mutual Travel Ban
10/25/2017 The U.S. Mission to Turkey has suspended all nonimmigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey, according to a statement released. This impacts nonimmigrant students, scholars and faculty. Immigrant visa services are not affected by the suspension. Although the U.S. government has not addressed current visa holders, Turkish nationals holding valid U.S. visas should not be affected by the suspension and should be able to travel to the United States, provided they are otherwise admissible. For all updates, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
New Changes to the Travel Ban - Suspended
10/20/2017 The recent travel ban changes to the eight affected countries has once again been suspended. For all updates, please read the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
What International Students and Scholars Need to Know About the Travel Ban
07/21/2017 Please review Fragomen Worldwide's answers to frequently asked questions about the travel ban. The information is based on the latest guidance from the Department of State and Homeland Security.
Update on Travel Ban: Suspended Travel Ban Still In Place For Those Able To Show Ties To US
6/26/2017 The U.S. Supreme Court today decided to partially lift two injunctions against President Trump’s March 6 travel ban executive order against certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and refugees from all countries. The Court will permit the Trump Administration to enforce the ban against restricted foreign nationals with no bona fide ties to the United States; those who can show a connection to the United States may still be able to obtain a visa and enter the country. For details, see the link to the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
New Electronic Device Restrictions on Certain US and UK Bound Flights
3/22/2017 Please be advised of the requirement that electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone must be in checked luggage for US and UK bound flights. For details, see the link to the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
Hawaii Federal District Judge Blocks Travel Executive Order Nationwide
3/15/2017 Please be advised that the most recent Executive Order "entry ban" has been suspended by a federal court before it was to go into effect. Therefore, at this time, students from the 6 affected countries are not banned from entry. The situation could change with subsequent orders. As always, student should consult with immigration advisors before considering travel. For details, see the link to the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration Website.
Updated Travel Ban Goes Into Effect March 16
3/6/2017 - President Trump has signed a revised executive order regarding travel. The revised 90 day "travel ban" goes into effect March 16 and will suspend the entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq has been removed from the "travel ban" at this time. International travel is cautioned at this time. For details, see this link to the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration website.
New Revised Executive Order to be Issued Soon regarding Travel
2/20/2017 - President Trump promises a revised entry ban executive order to be issued soon. International travel is cautioned at this time. For details, see this link to the legal summary from Fragomen Worldwide Immigration website.
Travel Ban Temporarily Suspended
2/7/2017 - The Travel Ban has been temporarily suspended pending U.S. Court of Appeals review. For the most recent updates on the status of the U.S. Entry Ban please review Fragomen Worldwide's website.
Alert: New Presidential Order - 90 day travel ban for certain countries
1/26/2017 - President Trump has signed an executive order that has placed an immediate 90 day ban on entry to the U.S. of persons from countries of concern which he identified as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. A brief summary of the orders has been provided for review on Fragomen Worldwide's website. Please use caution when traveling as right now, all travel may be considered risky. Please direct any concerns to the Immigration Compliance office by calling (269) 387-5865.
Important USCIS update regarding form editions
Starting 02/21/17, USCIS will only accept the 12/23/16 edition of all forms (such as I-765 and I-539)Until then, you can use previous editions. However, all filings postmarked 12/23/16 or later must include the new fees or we will reject them. You can find the edition date at the bottom of the page on the Form and Instructions on the USCIS website.
IRS Changes Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently announced changes to the ITIN program that will require some individuals to renew their ITIN. The IRS will send a letter to any taxpayer with expiring ITINs. For more information about the program changes, please visit the IRS website.
USCIS Increasing application processing fees in December 2016
A final USCIS fee rule was published in the Federal Register on October 24, 2016 [81 FR 73292]. The new fees will come effective on December 23, 2016. Applications or petitions mailed, postmarked or otherwise filed on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new fee. For a list of changes to frequently used forms, please click here.
OPT STEM Update for F-1 students
The OPT STEM program regulations will remain in place through May 10, 2016. This is pursuant to a new court order delaying the effective date of the previous court order which vacated the STEM regulations effective Feb. 12, 2016. For more information, please see this news article.
Ebola outbreak-related immigration relief measures
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. USCIS offers relief measures to nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who are currently in the U.S. For more information, visit the USCIS website.
United States' database glitch delays passport, visa processing
The U.S. State Department's global database for processing visas and passports is experiencing problems that could cause delays for millions of people around the world waiting to receive travel documents. For more information, visit the National Public Radio website.
Enhanced security measures for electronic devices at certain airports overseas
Electronic devices are already screened daily; but now, airport security officers might ask travelers to power up their devices, including cell phones. Devices that cannot be turned on will not be permitted on the aircraft, so it's important to have them charged prior to going through security. For more information, visit the TSA Blog.
SEVP launches mobile-friendly website
All F nonimmigrant students and J-1 exchange visitors must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee on FMJfee.com prior to applying for a visa to study in the United States. To make the process easier, FMJfee.com is now accessible on mobile devices. Users can now log in to the site on any mobile device to:
- Find recent news and updates related to the I-901 SEVIS fee.
- Check an I-901 SEVIS fee payment status.
- View and save an I-901 payment confirmation so you can print it later.
- Read answers to frequently asked questions.
- Visit Study in the States and associated social media platforms.
Those who have paid the fee must print a copy of the I-901 SEVIS fee payment confirmation to take with them when applying for a visa to enter the United States. Showing a copy of it from a mobile device will not be accepted.
International students may experience delays at U.S. ports of entry
As of May 2, 2013, due to heightened security, United States Customs and Border Protection officers are verifying the status of F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrants in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System before admission at port of entry. As a result, it has been reported that many Western Michigan University students and exchange visitors are referred to secondary inspection, where their SEVIS record will be reviewed. Due to these new entry procedures, F-1 Students and J-1 Exchange Visitors entering the United States should plan to spend a couple of hours in the secondary inspection process and plan flight connections accordingly. Additional information will be furnished when available.
Read more in Inside HigherEd.