U.S. Presidential Executive Orders and International Students and Scholars

NOTE:  This page references the OLD executive order signed on January 27, 2017 that is now revoked and no longer in place.  ISSS has created a new page on the new March 6 orders, which can be found on the "ISSS Announcements" box at https://international.uiowa.edu/isss .

Updated February 10, 2017, 8:30 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.

Contents

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.

 

The Executive Orders

Starting on January 25, 2017 the President of the United States began signing a series of executive orders that include reference to various aspects of immigration regulations and practices.  These include a wide range of orders, many of which do not necessarily directly or immediately impact students and scholars at the University of Iowa.  This page will focus only on those orders that impact our international student and scholar populations.  There are also drafts of other orders that have not been signed as of this time, that have been leaked to the press, and which could impact our students and scholars if they are eventually signed.  However, this page will focus only on those things contained in signed executive orders.

 

Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” signed on January 27, 2017

The full text of this order may currently be read on the website of the New York Times.  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

Sec. 8. 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. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.

This means all 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 seven countries listed below).  One example of this would be the "bank" or "drop off" system used by many Chinese citizens to "renew" visas.  Note that this requirement appears to still be in place and is not impacted by the Temporary Restraining Order.

  • 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.

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 of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

Individuals from the following countries were impacted by this section, even if the traveler possessed a valid visa. As of February 9, this restriction continues to be put on hold so that nationals of these countries are permitted to apply for visas and enter the U.S.

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

 

Updates for those with dual nationality:  On February 2, 2017 the Department of State issued clarification for those who hold dual nationality with one of the 7 restricted countries and any other non-restricted country.  The update states:

  • "This Executive Order does not restrict the travel of dual nationals from any country with a valid U.S. visa in a passport of an unrestricted country.  Our Embassies and Consulates around the world will continue to process visa applications and issue nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries. Please check with your local Embassy or Consulate for country specific information." 

Update on February 3 federal temporary restraining order:  On February 3, 2017, a U.S. district court judge in the state of Washington issued a "temporary restraining order." The order applies nation-wide and directs federal agencies to stop enforcing parts of the original executive orders.  This would appear to open the way for individuals from the 7 countries with valid immigration documents to be permitted to travel to and enter the U.S.  However, ISSS is waiting for further clarification and guidance as many more questions remain, including whether or not the previously valid visas of individuals from these countries that were automatically revoked by the Department of State will be considered valid again, or individuals must apply for new visas.  We still strongly advise anyone from these countries who is in the U.S. not leave at this time.  An email update will be sent to international students and scholars once we have more information.

Update on February 9 continuation of the restraining order of the executive order:  On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined the request of the U.S. Department of Justice to discontinue the temporary restraining order issued on February 3.  This means that the provisions of the executive order cannot resume, and continue to be on hold, thereby permitting visa issuance and travel to the U.S. by nationals of the 7 countries listed.  It is expected that this will be taken to the Supreme Court, so keep in mind this still is not "done" - this ruling only says that the hold on certain aspects of the original executive order will continue for now.  Also note that it does not appear that the restraining order covers the requirement to apply for new visas in person, so any student or scholar who travels AND who has an expired visa should still continue to plan on having to appear in person at the US consulate to renew your visa.

  • February 10, 2017 - Added update regarding the February 9 continuation of the Temporary Restraining Order.
  • February 3, 2017 - Added an update regarding Department of State clarification for those who hold dual citizenship/nationality with a non-restricted country.  Added a new section to track University of Iowa and community support. Added preliminary information about new federal order halting implementation of the travel ban for the 7 countries.
  • February 1, 2017 - Added information about scams relating to the executive orders, linked to online text from Dean Thomas.
  • January 31, 2017 - Expanded Frequently Asked Questions section.
  • January 30, 2017 - Added information for new admits/future students.
  • January 29, 2017 - Reports indicate that individuals from the seven countries are being told not to pay visa application fees or report for scheduled visa applications as they will not be permitted entrance to the consulates or to submit a visa application.  Updated website to clarify language on the federal emergency stay; added link for departments/staff/faculty to subscribe to ISSS department listserv.
  • January 28, 2017 - Stay on removal issued by federal court - A federal judge has issued a stay against portions of the executive order. It appears that the stay prevents officials from removing those individuals who have already arrived at a U.S. Port of Entry with valid visas and would be otherwise admissible. It does not guarantee that those individuals would actually be admitted to the U.S., just that they should not be sent away, although reports indicate some have later been admitted.  It appears that this applies only to those who arrived or were in the midst of travel while the new executive order was being signed.  ISSS has seen no indication that this stay would apply to anyone who has not yet initiated travel to the U.S.

 

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 seven countries listed above, as of February 3, 2017, you are now permitted to apply for an F or J visa and enter the U.S.  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 seven 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.  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.
  • 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 seven 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 7 countries listed.  Does this mean I can now travel outside the U.S.?   As of the court order on February 3 and the February 9 order upholding it, yes - the restrictions on issuance of visas and entry to the U.S. have been placed on hold so that nationals of these countries may obtain visas and travel to the U.S. as happened "normally" before the executive orders were issued.  It does not mean, however, that this is "done" - it is expected that the case will go to the Supreme Court for a final decision on whether the U.S. government can reinstate these orders.

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, 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 seven 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.

 

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

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 will host an information presentation on the executive orders for affected individuals, family, friends, and allies in the Iowa City community on Wednesday, February 8 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Iowa City Public Library Room A.