NOTE: This information covers the NEW, updated executive order on travel/admission to the U.S. signed on March 6, 2017.
Updated March 17, 2017, 10:30 a.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.
If you are in some other status, please see the section on Who To Contact.
- The Executive Orders
- Update Tracker
- Information for Admissions and Newly Admitted International Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Beware of Scams Relating to the Executive Orders
- Who To Contact
- University of Iowa and Community Support
We ask that students, scholars, and departments understand that things are moving very quickly, legal challenges are expected, 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.
This section includes:
- Visa Processing Requirements - for students, scholars, and dependents from all countries
- Restrictions for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen
- Updated information for citizens of Iraq
On March 6, 2017 a new, updated executive order, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” was signed updating and revoking the previous orders issued on January 27, 2017. The new orders were to become effective at12:01 a.m. EST on March 16, 2017 but on March 15 a federal judge placed a temporary restraining order on sections 2 and 6 of these orders.
The full text of this order may currently be read on the website of the Washington Post. The text should also eventually be published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/ and the Federal Register. While the order deals in part with issues relating to refugees, other parts will impact international students and scholars as noted below.
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.
Note: This section of the orders are still in place and are not impacted by either of the federal court temporary restraining orders as of March 17, 2017.
This means all F and J visa applicants will 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 six 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.
- 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 must make an appointment to go to the U.S. consulate in person to renew your visa.
- 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.
What about revoked visas? The new order goes on to clarify that, "No immigrant or nonimmigrant visa issued before the effective date of this order shall be revoked pursuant to this order." Furthermore, it states that anyone whose visa was cancelled/revoked due to the original January 27 executive order "shall be entitled to a travel document confirming that the individual is permitted to travel to the United States and seek entry." It is not clear yet to ISSS how or where such a "travel document" would be obtained.
Entry Restrictions for Specific Countries
(c) To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening and vetting of foreign nationals, to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists, and in light of the national security concerns referenced in section 1 of this order, I hereby proclaim, pursuant to sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) and 1185(a), that the unrestricted entry into the United States of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. I therefore direct that the entry into the United States of nationals of those six countries be suspended for 90 days from the effective date of this order, subject to the limitations, waivers, and exceptions set forth in sections 3 and 12 of this order.
Note: This section has been put on hold through two federal court temporary restraining orders as of March 17, 2017. Citizens from these countries are still advised to travel with caution.
Individuals from the following countries are impacted by this section.
Nationals of these countries will be restricted from entering the U.S. or obtaining a new visa as follows:
- are outside the U.S. on the effective date of this order
- did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m. EST on January 27, 2017, and
- do not have a valid visa on the effective date of this order
Exceptions to the above:
- 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 possibly be granted at the discretion of visa officers or Customs and Border Protection to those who would otherwise be restricted from entering the U.S. ISSS cautions that at this point in time it is difficult to know how likely such waivers are to happen. Examples of situations that may qualify for a waiver include:
- foreign nationals who have previously been admitted to the U.S. for a continuous period of work or study (this could be interpreted to potentially apply to F and J students or scholars), were outside the U.S. on the date this order became effective, who seek to reenter the U.S. to resume that activity, and for whom denial of entry would impair the ability to carry out that activity
- foreign nationals who seek to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations
- the foreign national seeks to enter the U.S. to visit or reside with a close family member (spouse, child, or parent) who is either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or is on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry would cause undue hardship (this appears that F-2 and J-2 dependents could qualify for this)
- the foreign national is traveling as a U.S. government-sponsored exchange visitor (this appears to be good news for those on a U.S. government-issued DS-2019 such as the Fulbright program)
What About Citizens of Iraq?
The above restrictions no longer include Iraq. However, additional processes or scrutiny may now be implemented when attempting to obtain a visa or enter the U.S.
Sec. 4. Additional Inquiries Related to Nationals of Iraq. An application by any Iraqi national for a visa, admission, or other immigration benefit should be subjected to thorough review, including, as appropriate, consultation with a designee of the Secretary of Defense and use of the additional information that has been obtained in the context of the close U.S.Iraqi security partnership, since Executive Order 13769 was issued, concerning individuals suspected of ties to ISIS or other terrorist organizations and individuals coming from territories controlled or formerly controlled by ISIS. Such review shall include consideration of whether the applicant has connections with ISIS or other terrorist organizations or with territory that is or has been under the dominant influence of ISIS, as well as any other information bearing on whether the applicant may be a threat to commit acts of terrorism or otherwise threaten the national security or public safety of the United States.
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.
New Students Who Have Never Been on a Student Visa Before
- If you are from one of the six countries listed above, you should still apply to be admitted to the University of Iowa. There is still a possibility that you could have enough time to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa after this executive order expires in mid-June. 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 for the fall 2017 semester, you will want 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.
- 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 six 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. Although this executive order will end in mid-June and you technically could be able to travel at that point, you may want to seriously consider staying in the U.S. while waiting for your fall program to begin. 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.
- 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 six countries should be considered, admitted, and processed as usual. Students will then follow the visa application process listed above.
I am from one of the six countries listed and my visa expired before January 27, 2017. What should I do? A March 15 federal court temporary restraining order has put on hold the section that impacts individuals from the six countries. Technically this means that again you are able to obtain visas and travel as normal; however as always ISSS suggestions remaining very cautious about leaving the U.S. at this time. More legal challenges are expected and it is unclear how long the existing orders will apply. The original language of the executive order states:
- If you will be outside the U.S. at the time this order takes effect on March 16, then you will not be permitted to reenter. Although a provision for "waivers" is included in the orders that make it appear those who are F or J students or scholars may be eligible to get a new visa, it is not clear to ISSS how often such things may be approved. Our advice is you do not leave the U.S. if you can help it.
- If you were inside the U.S. when your visa expired, and you still will be here when the order takes effect on March 16, this is where it gets tricky. Going by the guidance that says as long as you were inside the U.S. and your visa expired on or before January 27, it seems to indicate the ban does not apply to you. However, ISSS has concerns about possible confusion over the orders or misunderstandings occuring that could interfere with your ability to reenter the U.S. Until we know more, the safest plan is to stay in the U.S. until the orders expire in mid-June. If ISSS does learn of any updates we will be sure to post them.
I am from one of the six countries listed and my visa is still valid. What should I do? See the section above about the temporary restraining order.
However, we still include the original advice here: The new orders seem to be clear that those with valid visas are not impacted. This would include the assumption that those inside the U.S. on valid visas can leave and return without issues. However, there are still points that ISSS would prefer to see be clarified. You may be able to travel outside the U.S. and return as long as your visa was still valid as of January 27, 2017 but we still have serious concerns about confusion at the Ports of Entry, or confusion at consular offices for those whose visas expired after January 27. If you are in this situation and considering leaving the U.S. before mid-June, we encourage you to speak with an ISSS advisor or even legal counsel before making any travel plans.
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 would be required to go in person to the U.S. consulate to complete the application process - you cannot use any mail-in or bank application processes, it must 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.
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 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 six 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 not from one of the six 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.
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.
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.
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.