University of Iowa

Executive Orders and Travel Restrictions Information

NOTE:  On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the September 24, 2017 executive order restricting visa issuance and travel to the U.S. of certain foreign nationals.  This website is updated accordingly.

Updated June 26, 2018 1:00 p.m. by International Student and Scholar Services

This website will serve as a frequently updated resource for those at the University of Iowa on F-1, F-2, J-1, and J-2 visas and associated departments/staff/faculty.  ISSS cannot legally advise those in other immigration categories.  If you are in some other status, please see the section on Who To Contact.

Contents

We ask that students, scholars, and departments understand that orders and rulings can change very quickly, legal challenges continue, and clear guidance and answers are not necessarily immediately available to ISSS.  Hence the information provided here is the most detailed we can offer at the moment.

Readers should check back frequently and be certain to read the Update Tracker for the most recent guidance.  ISSS will send out notices only if significant updates are available through the following processes:

  • Direct emails to international students and scholars
  • Updates to the ISSS listserv for departments/staff/faculty.  Subscribe here if you wish to receive the listserv updates.

 

The Executive Orders

This section includes:

  • The June 26, 2018 Supreme Court decision to uphold the September 2017 executive order
  • The June 26, 2017 reinstatement of parts of the March 6, 2017 order
  • The September 24 new executive order and October 17 court order blocking it; Supreme Court action on December 4 permits full order to become active
  • Visa Processing Requirements - for students, scholars, and dependents from all countries
  • Restrictions for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen
  • Updated information for citizens of Iraq and Sudan

 

Visa Application Process for Everyone, Regardless of Country of Citizenship

Sec. 9. Visa Interview Security. (a) The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1202, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions. This suspension shall not apply to any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the IOIA; or traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government.

This means all F and J visa applicants may be required to apply through an in-person appointment with the U.S. consulate.  This would impact any of our international students and scholars and their dependents, regardless of country of citizenship (except for the seven countries listed below).  One example of this would be the "bank" or "drop off" system used by many Chinese and Indian citizens to "renew" visas.  (Note:  As of June 2017 ISSS has received reports that some "drop off" programs are continuing to function as normal.  We do not know if this is temporary, and suggest contacting the consulate that you would use to renew your visa to determine whether you need to appear in person or not.)

  • If your current F or J visa is still valid, this will not impact you.
  • If your current F or J visa is expired but you are staying inside the U.S., then this will not impact you.
  • If your F or J visa is expired AND you travel outside the U.S., then you may have to make an appointment to go to the U.S. consulate in person to renew your visa unless otherwise directed by the consulate.
  • At this time we cannot predict how appointment wait times and processing times will be impacted, or whether F and J visa applicants will continue to be eligible for priority appointments, as has been the case in the past.  All ISSS can suggest at this point is to plan ahead as much as possible, and visit the website of the consulate where you would renew your visa to see what they list as current wait times.

 

Entry Restrictions for Specific Countries

 

In September 2017 new executive orders were issued regarding visa eligibility and restricting travel to the U.S. of certain foreign nationals.  Those orders were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2018.    The September 24 orders provide different restrictions based upon country of citizenship compared to earlier versionf of the Executive Orders, as noted below.

  • North Korea and Somalia - The University of Iowa does not currently have students or scholars from these countries.  Anyone seeking more information relating to their restrictions may view the original orders posted on the White House press office website. (Chad was originally included in this list but has since been removed.)
  • Iran - Issuance of both non-immigrant and immigrant visas is suspended.  However, F and J visa applications are still permitted pending "enhanced screening and vetting" before a decision to issue the visa is made.  As has already been the case, citizens of Iran will have to apply for F and J visas at specified consulates outside Iran.
  • Libya and Yemen - Tourists (B) visas as well as immigrant visas are suspended.  Current students in F and J status as well as future applicants for F/J should still be OK.
  • Syria - All non-immigrant as well as immigrant visas are suspended.  Current students in valid F and J status are OK.  It is unclear whether future applicants, such as future newly admitted students, will be impacted.  See the section on potential waivers below.
  • Venezuela - At this point in time the only Venezuelan nationals impacted by the restrictions are government employees and their family members seeking visitor visas.  Students and scholars in F and J status are not impacted.

Exceptions to the above and possible waivers:

  • the suspension of entry to the U.S. will not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders)
  • any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after the effective date of this order
  • any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date after, that permits him or her to travel to the U.S. to seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document
  • any dual national of one of the above six countries, as long as they are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country
  • any foreign national traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas
  • any foreign national who has been granted asylum, any refugee who has already been admitted to the U.S., or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture
  • waivers may be possible at the discretion of the consulate where the visa application is being processed
  • Additional exception as of June 26, 2017 - the U.S. Supreme Court states those with a "bona fide" relationship to an individual or entity in the U.S. should not be refused entry; this should include those who are students, scholars, and their dependents

 

What About Citizens of Iraq and Sudan?

  • Sudan was completely removed from the travel restrictions in the September 24, 2017 executive order.
  • Iraq - The above restrictions also no longer include Iraq.  However, additional processes or scrutiny will still be in place when attempting to obtain a visa or enter the U.S.

 

Update Tracker

June 26, 2018 - Updated information reflecting the Supreme Court decision to uphold the September 2017 executive orders.
December 4, 2017 - Added note that U.S. Supreme Court permitted all provisions of the September 24 order to become effective.
October 17, 2017 - Added update from U.S. District Court in Hawaii issuing temporary restraining order blocking the September 24 executive order.
September 25, 2017 - Added update from new September 24 order, which now differentiates restrictions based on specific country of citizenship and adds Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela restrictions.
July 6, 2017 - Added fiancee to the list of "close familial relationship"
June 29, 2017 - Added update regarding definitions of "close familial relationship" for those who wish to invite family, see the FAQ section for details.
June 27, 2017 - Added update regarding June 26 Supreme Court reinstatement of parts of the executive order.
March 17, 2017 - Added update regarding March 15 temporary restraining order impacting citizens from the 6 countries.
March 6, 2017 - Added information from the newly updated executive order signed today.

 

Information for Newly Admitted or Future International Students

New Students Who Have Never Been on a Student Visa Before

  • If you are from one of the countries listed above, you should still apply to be admitted to the University of Iowa.  Those who are admitted as students should still be eligible for entry to the U.S. and this appears to be reinforced in the September 24 orders, although some applicants may face additional screening.  The only uncertainty regards new F or J visa applications from Syrians, who may still be able to request a waiver consideration for an F or J visa.
  • You should be prepared for the possibility, however, that your visa application could still be subject to a background security check.  The background check process has been in place for several years, so is not new or part of these executive orders.  If this happens it could cause delays in obtaining a visa.  There is nothing the University of Iowa can do to speed up or resolve a background check.  If it appears the background check will prevent you from arriving on time to begin your studies  you will need to communicate with the Office of Admissions (undergraduates) or your admitting department (graduate and professional students) to see if your admission can be deferred to a future semester.  We will then need to update your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • If you are from any other country, the visa application process has not changed.  You will make an appointment to go in person to the U.S. consulate and apply for your F-1 or J-1 visa.

 

New Students Who Are Transferring from Another U.S. School

  • If you are from one of the countries listed above, you should still arrange to have your current school transfer your SEVIS record to the University of Iowa once your studies end there.   If you choose to travel outside the U.S., if your current F or J visa is expired you will be required to apply for a new one, and must do so in person at a U.S. consulate.  We also recommend having a copy of your admission letter with you when you enter the U.S.
  • If you are from any other country, you should arrange to have your current SEVIS record transferred to the University of Iowa once your studies end there.  You may choose to stay in the U.S. between the time your current school's studies end and your University of Iowa courses begin, assuming that period of time is 5 months or less.  If you choose to travel outside the U.S., if your current F or J visa is expired you will be required to apply for a new one, and must do so in person at a U.S. consulate.

Former University of Iowa Students Returning After an Absence

  • Please contact International Student and Scholar Services for guidance on your visa situation.

Information for Academic Programs

  • Applications from international students from the countries should be considered, admitted, and processed as usual.  Students will then follow the visa application process listed above.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

I am from one of the countries listed.  What should I do?   While the Supreme Court permits the U.S. government to again restrict the travel of some from one of these countries, those already here in a valid status as students, scholars, or their F-2 or J-2 dependents should not be included in the restrictions; however as always ISSS suggests remaining very cautious about leaving the U.S. at this time.  

I am from a country that is not on the list (ex. China, Germany, Australia, etc.).  Do I need to be worried or do anything differently?  At this point the only change for you is if (1) you travel outside the U.S. and (2) your visa is expired so that you need to renew your F or J visa.  If this is the case, then you may be required to go in person to the U.S. consulate to complete the application process - you may not be able to use any mail-in or bank application processes, it may have to be done in-person.  If your visa is still valid, or you are staying inside the U.S., then nothing is different for you.  See the information provided above.  (Note:  As of June 2017 ISSS has heard from some students who were still able to use the "drop off" system to renew visas; we do not know if this is temporary or whether consulates had not had time to implement changes - if you need to get a new visa we suggest contacting the consulate to determine if they require you to come in person or not.)

I am an enrolled student who is in a status other than F or J, who can help me?  See the section below on Who To Contact.  You can speak with Student Legal Services or the College of Law Legal Clinic if you do not already have your own immigration attorney.

I am a foreign national employee who is not an enrolled student and but am on a University of Iowa immigration document, who can help me?  See the section below on Who To Contact. You can speak with the Faculty and Staff Immigration Services office.

I am a foreign national employee who is not an enrolled student and am also not on a University of Iowa immigration document, who can help me?  See the section below on Who To Contact. You can speak with the College of Law Legal Clinic if you do not already have your own immigration attorney.

I am from one of the countries listed.  Will this prevent me from extending my I-20 or DS-2019, applying for OPT or CPT, or obtaining part-time authorization?  No, none of these things are impacted by this order. You are still able to apply for the usual benefits available to those in F or J status.

I am from one of the countries listed.  What if my F/J visa has expired, will I be in trouble?

  • First, remember that your visa (the page in the passport) can expire and as long as you are inside the U.S., your immigration status is not impacted.  What matters is that you have an active and valid I-20 (for F-1 status) or DS-2019 (for J-1 status) and that you are maintaining the terms of your status.  If you have F-2 or J-2 dependents, their status is active as long as yours is.
  • An expired visa only becomes an issue if you want or need to travel outside the U.S.  This is when you need to pay careful attention to the specific rules pertaining to your country.
  • Citizens of most of the countries SHOULD be able to obtain new F or J visas.  However, as always ISSS recommends caution with travel, because we can never guarantee policy will be applied as it appears in the orders.  There may also be lengthy background security checks before a new visa is issued.  Take these things into consideration if you plan to leave the U.S. and your visa is expired.
  • Citizens of Syria who have expired visas may want to delay departing the U.S. while still involved in their student/scholarly programs.  This is because it is not year clear whether F-1 or J-1 visas will be available.

What about my family or friends who want to come visit?  How do they define "close familial relationship?"  The U.S. Department of State issued clarification of this on June 28.  According to the Reuters news service, which has posted text from the Department of State cable:

  • “Close family” is defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half.  This includes step relationships. Fiancees were recently added.
  • “Close family” does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, and any other “extended” family members.

I am not from one of the countries listed.  Could other countries be added?  Section 2, subsection (e) does state that "the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of additional countries for which any of them recommends other lawful restrictions or limitations...."  So yes, it is possible that new countries could be added to this order.

 

Beware of Scams Relating to the Executive Orders

ISSS has received reports about "scams" or criminal activity happening in some parts of the U.S. relating to the new executive orders.  These are situations where criminals are targeting international students and scholars by phone, posing as government or law enforcement officials such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the police, etc. and trying to convince the students that they must immediately pay a large amount of money or they will immediately be arrested and deported.

If you receive such a call, it is NOT TRUE.

Scams like this have been around and targeting international students for years.  Remember ISSS has a website that mentions different types of common scams.  The only difference now is that they can use the fear and anxiety caused by the executive orders to help convince someone to pay.  No matter what, you would not be called on the phone like this and asked to pay money or be deported if there was something wrong with your status.  That's not how it works.

If you receive such a call, hang up.  Don't even bother speaking to the person.  If you are really worried, then please come see an ISSS advisor and we can help you sort out whether it is a scam.

 

Who To Contact

International Student and Scholar Services - for those in F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 status at the University of Iowa

ECFMG - for those at the University of Iowa through the J-1 ECFMG medical residents program

Faculty and Staff Immigration Services - for those on employment visas employed by and sponsored by the University of Iowa, such as H-1B, O-1, TN, UI sponsored green cards

Student Legal Services - for enrolled students other than F or J status

University of Iowa College of Law - Immigration Clinical Program - assistance and referrals for any members of the public with immigration subjects including Adjustment of Status, asylum applications, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), employment authorization, family-based petitions, naturalization/citizenship, special immigrant juvenile status, T visas, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), U visas, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) petitions

University Counseling Services - available for any enrolled students if you are experiencing distress, anxiety, and other emotional issues relating to these new orders and would like someone to talk to.

UI Employee Assistance Program - available to any university employees (including all J-1 visiting scholars) if you are experiencing distress, anxiety, and other emotional issues relating to these new orders and would like someone to talk to.

 

University of Iowa and Community Support

A collection of statements, articles, and actions from campus and the community.

  • Statement from Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs, Downing Thomas - February 1, 2017
  • Letter sent to the president of the United States and congressional leaders from the American Association for the Advancement of Science - President Harreld signed, adding the University of Iowa - January 31, 2017
  • Another letter signed by President Harreld in cooperation with the Association of American Universities is not yet available on the internet.
  • Article in The Gazette including statements from University of Iowa President Harreld and the University of Iowa Faculty Senate - February 2, 2017
  • The Iowa City Area Development group is promoting a printable poster, Hate Has No Business Here, from The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small businesses focused on public policy issues.  
  • Johnson County is joining the Welcoming America movement.
  • University of Iowa Clinical Law Students and Iowa Student Bar Association members hosted an information presentation on the executive orders for affected individuals, family, friends, and allies in the Iowa City community on Wednesday, February 8 in the Iowa City Public Library Room A.