September 01, 2017
The Office of International Programs is keeping a running list of immigration updates for our International community.
September 28, 2017 update:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a notification that anyone applying for immigration benefits is subject to their social media being part of their official immigration record.
While DHS has looked at publicly available resources on the internet for a while, this is the first acknowledgment by the government that social media handles and other identifiers will be part of the visa process for some immigrant and non-immigrant applicants.
Applicants are to submit social media handles through a new form, Form DS-5535, which has already been implemented.
Any visa applicants should know that anything that is publicly available, including internet search results, social media posts, and other information, are not private. They should assume that government authorities reviewing applications will consult this information.
Applicants should also be cautious about using sarcasm, jokes and other statements that could be misinterpreted through a digital platform. Anything United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finds questionable could result in a Request for Further Evidence or an in-person interview.
• Social media handles, posts, and other publicly available information on the internet is subject to review by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
• Immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants should exercise caution when on the internet (sarcasm, jokes, frustration, etc. likely don’t translate on a digital platform)
• A new form has already been implemented that some applicants have been required to fill out regarding activity online
September 15, 2017 update:
Effective October 1, 2017, faculty applying for employment-based Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) will be required to have an in-person interview at the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office as part of the USCIS “extreme-vetting” process.
A provision under this new requirement allows an LPR applicant to hire an attorney to be present, however, it is not required. We have been working with our outside counsel, Perez & Malik, PLLC, and have been informed the cost associated with having an attorney present at an interview will be $450. Unlike some of the other fees associated with the LPR process, this particular fee can be paid either by the applicant or another entity, i.e. the department or institution.
At this time, it is up to the discretion of the department to determine how best to manage this charge should a faculty member wish to hire an attorney for this purpose.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Tanya Orndorff at 210-458-7266 or Ashley Wallace or 210-458-8510.
August 30, 2017 update:
On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued an order agreeing to hear the Administration’s appeals of two rulings by Federal Appeals Courts regarding Executive Order 13780 and partially granting the government’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions.
We encourage anyone who may be affected by this to visit the U.S. Department of State website for the most accurate and relevant information.
March 28, 2017 update:
Beginning March 24, anyone traveling on non-stop flights to the United States from several Middle East and North African countries should begin complying with new regulations regarding travel with electronics. Passengers traveling on direct flights to the United States from certain countries will have to check any electronic larger than a smartphone. These devices, which include laptops, tablets, cameras and e-readers, are not allowed in carry-on luggage.
As with any flight, if you are traveling abroad, you should anticipate possible security delays at affected airports and comply with any security directives from airport authorities. Check the TSA and Department of Homeland Security websites for the most up-to-date information.
The U.S. order specifically affects the following airports:
- Abu Dhabi International (AUH, UAE)
- Cairo International (CAI, Egypt)
- Dubai International (DXB, UAE)
- Hamad International (DOH, Doha, Qatar)
- Istanbul Ataturk (IST, Turkey)
- King Abdulaziz International (JED, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
- King Khalid International (RUH, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
- Kuwait International (KWI)
- Mohammed V International (CAS, Casablanca, Morocco)
- Queen Alia International (AMM, Amman, Jordan)
March 6, 2017 update:
A second executive order was signed by the President of the United States affecting travel from those from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are not currently in the country and who do not have a valid visa. The ban will be in effect for 90 days.
The Executive Order does not apply to certain individuals, such as lawful permanent residents of the United States; foreign nationals admitted to the United States after the effective date of the order; individuals with a document that is valid on the effective date of the order or any date thereafter which permits travel to the United States; dual nationals when travelling on a passport issued by a non-designated country; foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2 for travel to the United Nations, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas; and individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date of the order.
March 4, 2017 update:
On March 4, 2017 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that premium processing for H1B employees will be suspended for 90 days for up to a period of six months beginning April 3. This is an effort to clear a back log of immigration processing. USCIS has suspended premium processing from time to time in past years. In the H1B category, suspensions have typically been limited to just a few weeks and limited to only a subset of application types. This new announcement represents a much broader suspension in the 16-year history of the premium processing program.
An H1B is a visa allows international faculty and staff to be employed in the United States. UTSA uses the H1B visa primarily to employ international tenure track faculty members, lecturers, research associates and post-doctoral fellows. Premium processing reduces time that USCIS requires to process and approve the H1B petition from eight months (regular processing) down to 15 days (premium processing). Premium processing costs an additional $1,225 above the normal processing fees.
Because of the premium processing suspension (and if it lasts up to 6 months), there may be significant delays for newly hired international faculty and staff members that do not already have H1B requests on file with International Scholar Services. This may also interfere with international travel plans for faculty and staff who are currently in the process of renewing and/or extending their H1B documents.
UTSA International Scholar Services informed all H1B scholars about this suspension and contacted all H1B scholars/researchers/staff who may benefit from filing H1B petitions prior to the April 3 USCIS deadline.
UTSA departments who seek to hire international faculty/researchers/staff in the near future should contact International Scholar Services at 458-6571 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss available visa options for new hires.
In case the H1B visa is the only visa option available for a new hire and if this suspension lasts up to 6 months, there may be a way to request expedited processing from USCIS, if one or more of the following applies to the petitioner or the beneficiary:
• Severe financial loss to company or person;
• Emergency situation;
• Humanitarian reasons;
• Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
• Department of Defense or national interest situation (These particular expedite requests must come from an official U.S. government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the government.);
• USCIS error; or
• Compelling interest of USCIS.
To request an expedited process, UTSA International Scholar Services will assist UTSA hiring departments by contacting the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 and the NCSC will forward the request to the USCIS Service Center adjudicating the case. Expedites can also be requested via the InfoPass appointment system at local USCIS offices or via writing a letter to the field office or service center. If an H1B employee is overseas, the request should be made directly to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the petition.
International Scholar Services is fully committed to assist UTSA hiring departments and H1B employees in the best way possible. We will work diligently and efficiently on every case we handle. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Email: email@example.com or phone: 210-458-6571
Feb. 14, 2017 update:
The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a look at the effect of the Jan. 27 Executive Order on higher ed.
Feb. 13, 2017 update:
- Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- U.S. Department of State
- Find my Embassy
With more than 2 million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., to safeguard everyone’s rights.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.
January 31, 2017 update
Timelines Outlined in Executive Order: Protecting The Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
• For the next 90 days, nearly all travelers, except U.S. citizens, traveling on passports from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen will be temporarily suspended from entry to the United States. The 90-day period will allow for proper review and establishment of standards to prevent terrorist or criminal infiltration by foreign nationals.
• Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate. The entry of these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest. Therefore, we expect swift entry for these individuals.
• In the first 30 days, DHS will perform a global country-by-country review of the information each country provides when their citizens apply for a U.S. visa or immigration benefit.
• Countries will then have 60 days to comply with any requests from the U.S. government to update or improve the quality of the information they provide.
• The Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and interagency partners review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to citizens of the United States.
January 31, 2017 update
UTSA President Ricardo Romo today updated the university community on the impact of the recent executive order banning travel from seven countries. In his message, Romo underscored UTSA's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.
January 31, 2017 update
What is an Executive Order?
An executive order is not the president creating a new law, but is a directive to federal agencies. In this case, the order prohibits entry of both nonimmigrant and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia into the United States for at least 90 days from Jan. 27, 2017.
This order will also require a review of the process to issue visas, which include screening standards and procedures. The Department of Homeland Security will, within 30 days, compile a list of countries that do not provide the information on its citizens that will be needed for new screening processes. If these countries are not willing or able to do that, citizens will not be issued visas or allowed to enter the country. We won't know which countries are affected by this portion of the order until the report is finalized.
I am from one of the 7 countries on the "suspended entry list." What do I do?
Please understand that if you leave the United States, regardless of the reason, you will not be able to return during the 90-day period, and possibly longer. It is important that you speak with an international student advisor in the Office of International Programs prior to making any plans for travel.
I am from another country. What should I expect?
We recommend that you consult with an international student advisor prior to making travel plans. If you need to renew your visa while abroad, you may experience a longer wait time for appointments and visa processing.
Our office is closely monitoring changes in the immigration environment and will let you know of any updates. In the meantime, it's important that you continue to maintain your status, regardless of the type of visa you hold.
What happens next?
The Office of International Programs always has and always will support its students, who came to UTSA to make a better world through higher education. We recognize what a trying and confusing time this is and will do everything in our power to ensure you have all of the information and resources you need for any changes in procedure you may experience in the future.
Travel Advisory for Nationals of Certain Countries Pursuant to Executive Order (1/29/2017)
Full Text of Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (1/27/2017)
Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet Regarding EO Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (1/29/2017)
Department of State Notice on Visas after Executive Order (1/27/2017)